14 Sep 2016

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8 great reasons to use rainscreen cladding

The use of rainscreen cladding is on the rise in modern architecture, but what are its benefits and why are more and more architects opting to use it? James Ormerod, Managing Director at Aliva UK, explains.

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Stunning aesthetics: Aliva’s gold aluminium mesh cladding turns this concrete car park in Manchester into a beautiful landmark

The concept of rainscreen cladding has been around since the 1950s, though it wasn’t known as such at the time. As the name suggests, it was designed to protect exterior walls from rainwater, but in the last 60 years architects have come to recognise its many other benefits, both for new and existing buildings.

Here are the key reasons why you should consider rainscreen for your next build:

1. Stunning aesthetics

Rainscreen cladding is incredibly versatile, meaning almost anything is possible from a design perspective. Not only are there a myriad of different materials – from aluminium panels to glass reinforced concrete – but each has numerous options in terms of shape, configuration, colour and more. Aliva’s Alucovering aluminium cladding for example, comes in every colour you could imagine, as well as specialised finishes like CorTen. Rainscreen cladding can take a building from the mundane to the beautiful without breaking the bank.

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Ceramic cladding creates a sweeping curve at Brighton Marina

2. Enhanced thermal insulation

Rainscreen cladding is one of the most effective and least costly ways of giving full thermal insulation to a building without having to compromise on internal floor space. Cold bridging is reduced, which further helps to minimise energy costs and lessens the likelihood of condensation and damp. In-depth studies conducted by the University of Bologna in conjunction with Aliva demonstrate substantial energy savings achievable through modern construction methods.

3. Improved sustainability and environmental credentials

As well as helping to insulate buildings, giving a lower carbon footprint, the cladding itself also has sustainable credentials. Take aluminium – it can be completely recycled and turned into other products. In fact, the Council for Aluminium in Buildings states that 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use and recycling rates for architectural aluminium that goes on to be used in other ways are between 92%-98%. Natural materials like terracotta, ceramic and stone are also great choices from a sustainability point of view.

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Aliva’s Alucovering aluminium rainscreen was the sustainable choice for Oldham Leisure Centre.

4. Reduced building maintenance

Adding rainscreen cladding to exterior walls protects buildings from the elements and significantly slows deterioration. This can help avoid extensive future repair costs and add to the life of the building. Another bonus is that the cladding itself is easy to maintain. Aliva’s systems, for example, are easy to remove for repair or to check the condition of the underlying structure.

5. Better soundproofing

The additional layer that rainscreen cladding adds to a building improves its acoustic performance, protecting occupants from noises outside. This is particularly useful in urban areas near major roads.

6. Ease of installation

Rainscreen cladding systems like ours are designed to be installed quickly and simply. In addition, because the systems are installed directly onto external walls, it causes no disruption to the inside of the building. The advantage of this is clear in situations where cladding is being applied to older buildings that need updating and insulating. The cladding can be installed with little or no disruption to the occupants.

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Cavendish House in Norwich used Aliva Air ultra-lightweight stone cladding

7. Versatility
The sheer amount of choice in rainscreen cladding means that no matter what the design or budget, there is an option to suit your needs. It’s possible to commission anything from standard systems to completely bespoke solutions, in materials ranging from terracotta and ceramic, to natural stone or glass. There are also lightweight options which allow materials like stone to be used with lightweight modern construction methods. It’s an incredibly versatile and cost-effective way to add a new dimension to a building project.

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Bronze aluminium cladding adds visual interest and contrast to the insulated render at Moneypenny Headquarters

8. Flexibility
Another important aspect of rainscreen cladding is its ease of integration with other façade solutions. Not only do different types of cladding work well together, but they can also provide a fantastic contrast with, for example, insulated render. We often design, engineer and install multiple façade solutions for a single project – a recent example is the Moneypenny Headquarters in Wrexham (picture above), where we provided both bronze aluminium cladding and insulated render.

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