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EXTERNAL ENVELOPE


Pushing the envelope with future facades


Aliva UK’s James Ormerod reports on how, while trends in facades are ever changing, environmental standards and end user demands call for new materials, fixing systems and different approaches, but signature facades can be created that will stand the test of time


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ore architects and their customers are selecting cladding materials that reflect not only the design ethos but also the values of the building’s end user. Finishes need to ‘live and breathe’ the company philosophy, including its green credentials. Microsoft Corporation’s new Irish headquarters in Dublin made use of highly sustainable aluminium. The project brought all 1,200 Irish employees under one roof and was the corporation’s first data centre outside the US, so it needed a ‘wow’ factor finish that also reflected the company’s eco-values.


The finishing touch to the landmark project used natural silver shades of anodised aluminium cladding to offer a sustainable yet striking facade. Another example of this type of aluminium finish is Ellesmere shopping centre in Salford, Greater Manchester. Aluminium cladding is ideal for marrying sustainability with luxurious design. It is easily recycled – more than half of the aluminium currently produced in the European Union originates from recycled raw materials, and this number is increasing. Apart from routine cleaning for aesthetic reasons, aluminium cladding does not need any maintenance, which translates into a major cost and ecological advantage over the building’s lifetime. It ticks all the ‘green’ boxes, but it is also highly reflective, making for an eye-catching design too. Aluminium is endlessly versatile. High


quality ‘billets’ of aluminium can be extruded to create panels, which allows cladding designers to create any profile from flat to corrugated, to a smooth wave, and much more. Panels can be anodised or powder coated, and aluminium can also be expanded or perforated. A bold, modern facade of bronze


ADF SEPTEMBER 2018


expanded aluminium mesh transformed the luxury 29-storey Merano development on London’s embankment. Traditional brick remains a much- loved look for buildings, but weight considerations on tall buildings call for innovative materials. St Vincent’s Place, new student accommodation at Sheffield University, utilises lightweight brick slips that were rapidly installed to enable the project to complete on time for the start of the academic year.


Insulated render is fast earning its place in the architect’s palette of distinctive finishes, and we utilised it to enable call handling company Moneypenny to reach high environmental and energy saving standards while creating a striking visual profile for their new HQ. St Stephens Towers, new student accommodation in Norwich, incorporates a trio of these signature finishes – aluminium (in an innovative honeycomb design) insulated render and brick slips – to give a modern look to a redevelopment that blends with surrounding architecture to improve the appearance of an important gateway to the city centre.


Speed & simplicity


Architects are now specifying cladding in much larger panel sizes than traditionally. Many favour the striking clean lines they can achieve, plus the greater efficiency through installing a smaller number of individual panels.


Cladding panels that span floors seamlessly are more and more popular. Large format stone and glass cladding is now common, but this requires manufacturers to be more creative in their approach to overcome weight barriers. Architects in Scotland used large format, lightweight stone panels on two student accommodation projects, which were


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A signature facade can transform a well-designed building into an exemplar of outstanding architecture


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