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EXTERNAL ENVELOPE Under the skin


As well as aesthetic and performance requirements, the need for more sustainable envelopes is influencing architects’ choice of materials when it comes to facades, says Simon Wild of Formica Group


rchitecture has been described as “a visual art where buildings speak for themselves”. In practice, however, it is not always possible for architects to pursue their aesthetic vision without compromise. The requirement for projects to be functional often means that the initial design concept has to be modified. Balancing factors such as building infra- structure and environmental considerations, including stricter energy regulations and budget limitations, can be a challenge. Today’s facade options are making it easier for architects to create buildings that balance the functional and cost require- ments of the client’s brief with aesthetic choices, to deliver ‘statement’ design. Some of this expanded choice of envelopes made available to architects is being facilitated by manufacturers. For example, manufacturers are now using the benefits of High Pressure Laminate (HPL), once predominantly speci- fied for interiors, and bringing the benefits of the material’s properties to rainscreen cladding solutions. Traditionally, HPL has been specified for interiors due to its durable, hygienic and easy to maintain properties that make it ideal for the requirements of the built envi- ronment. Equally significant to its popularity is the broad selection of decora- tive options the surface permits. Considering both aesthetic and func- tional demands, it is understandable that architects are taking advantage of the bene- fits afforded by materials such as HPL and increasingly applying the material to build- ing envelopes. Take for example the internationally-renowned Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), the architects behind Lewisham Pop-Up Village, who selected HPL rainscreen cladding as part of a practical solution to housing homeless families currently living in B&Bs.


A Case study: Lewisham Pop-Up Village


With the Government wanting to build a million new homes by 2020, and having


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built just under 293,000 homes in February, council projects like Lewisham Pop-Up Village play a supporting role in alleviating the housing crisis. In its design approach, RSHP took steps to meet the social respon- sibility of the 24-home Pop-Up Village without compromising on looks. The vibrant coloured rainscreen cladding and striking red stairwells are the first aspect of the ‘village’ likely to be noticed by passers-by and inhabitants. RSHP specified VIVIX panels by Formica Group because of their substantial choice of colour that made it possible to inject the sense of visual vital- ity and a welcoming feeling that was integral to the design. Beyond the facades, the material properties of the rainscreen cladding specified also supported the build- ing’s overall sustainability credentials. RSHP wanted to achieve a ‘future


proof’ design with long term value. The rainscreen cladding, the panels were manufactured in Europe according to the ISO 9001 standard which under the building’s Life Cycle Assessment confirms


ADF APRIL 2017 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


COLOURS


The vibrant rainscreen cladding is the first thing passers by will notice on the Lewisham project © Mark Gorton – Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners


A lightweight material such as laminate is beneficial in contributing to a lower carbon footprint,


particularly with regards to transportation


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