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30 Getting the balance right


Jon Sheaf of AluK discusses the considerations that must be taken into account when specifying curtain walling, alongside achieving the right aesthetic results


Over-engineer these elements and the curtain walling will be too costly, under-engineer them however, and it will lead to performance issues


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nce a glazed facade has been chosen as part of your building envelope, the first stage in drawing up the specification is to decide whether to use curtain walling or a punched hole window option. As a general rule, curtain walling is required for large expanses of glazing over 3000 mm high or which span multiple floors. Also, if the design features curved on plan, faceted or raked details and if any external attachments are to be fixed to a glazed facade such as solar shading or signage, then curtain walling would always be preferred to windows.


Understanding the static considerations which dictate the specification of the mullion and transom back box sizes in curtain walling is essential, in order to


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end up with a facade which is both cost effective and meets the client’s performance requirements for a building. Over-engineer these elements and the curtain walling will be too costly, under-engineer them however, and it will lead to performance issues. It can be a delicate balancing act and, for anything other than routine projects, I would always recommend getting advice from a specialist systems house in the first instance. By definition, curtain walling is a system which supports no load other than its own weight and the environmental forces which act upon it. However, it is obviously required to control everything from heat and air flow to noise and solar gain, and to be strong, durable, cost effective, and of course to look good. Aesthetically, stick curtain walling, which


ADF FEBRUARY 2019


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