28 Jan 2016

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What will buildings look like in 2016? 3 key architectural cladding trends

Much of a building’s appearance is down to the façade, and just like clothes, façade fashions are ever-changing. With the help of Aliva’s upcoming order book, Darren Gormer, Sales Manager, predicts the key trends for the year to come.

Cladding Trends
Elliott House in Edinburgh uses large format stone cladding to blend in with its historical surroundings

The façade or cladding on any building is usually the first thing that anyone notices – it’s the last thing to go on, and it transforms the way it looks.

Aliva UK’s current and planned projects offer a unique insight into the key trends of 2016, and show how ever more innovative cladding solutions will be needed to meet the ambitious visions of today’s architects.

Bigger is better

Traditionally, architects have specified cladding in relatively modest panel sizes. Now, we’re increasingly getting requests for larger format modules – at least 1000 x 1000mm and anything right up to 3400 x 1500mm.

Particularly popular at the moment are cladding panels that span between the floors of a building. This was demonstrated by the recent car park project at Grafton Street in Manchester where we developed a stunning gold anodised aluminium expanded mesh façade, with each cladding panel spanning the height of two floors.

Another project cementing this trend is the Merano Residences, part of the Nine Elms development on the South Bank in London. From the vision of architect Graham Stirk, we’ve developed a large format bronze anodised aluminium expanded mesh façade, with panels measuring up at 2.8m by 1.6m.

Aluminium cladding is a good example of where a larger format is easy to achieve. Aliva’s extruded aluminium panels can be produced up to 6m in length. Our glass cladding is also big, with sizes available up to 4.2m by 1.5m.

Other cladding formats are less straightforward, and that’s where new technology comes in. Take stone cladding – it isn’t practical to make traditional stone cladding in larger sizes. Its weight, for example, would be a considerable issue when it came to fixing it to a building. But that’s not to say that larger format stone can’t be done.

Our solution is Aliva Air – a thin veneer of stone (or ceramic or glass) is produced with a composite panel and a stainless steel backing. The result is an incredibly lightweight cladding panel with the look and feel of solid stone, letting us produce larger format modules.

Projects that have already produced fine results with Aliva Air include two student accommodation projects in Scotland (pictured top), which used large format stone panels to blend in with their historic surroundings.

To meet the growing demand for larger format options, we’ll be expanding our offering in 2016 to include our Grescovering terracotta system in formats of up to 600 x 3000mm and we’ll have new ceramic and composite solutions in formats up to 3400 x 1500mm.

High gloss, high shine finishes

Another pattern emerging for 2016 is high shine finishes. We’re predicting that this trend will bring an increase in demand for glass cladding, which is already a popular choice. It’s easy to maintain but also enables architects to maximise daylight capacity in buildings through transparent or semi-transparent panels.

Cladding TrendsDecorative glass rainscreen at Queen Mary’s, University of London

The development of flat glass technology also means virtually limitless decorative options, as shown by our project for Queen Mary’s, University of London (pictured).

Innovative solutions

Aliva Air isn’t the only innovation to add more options to the architect’s toolbox.

Take ceramic cladding, which is currently another popular look for architects. We’re working on a ceramic cladding project for Brighton Marina (pictured below) at the moment, with another project scheduled at Newbury Racecourse this year. Adding a high-tech element to ceramic are our new Hydrotech finishes which offer top-end solutions for buildings with environmental and self-cleaning requirements.

With Hydrotech, the ceramic tiles are coated with the natural chemical titanium dioxide, which gives them self-cleaning and air-cleaning properties and can eliminate 99.9% of the bacteria on the surface. As well as keeping the building looking pristine, this reduces maintenance and cleaning costs.

It’s not just the cladding panels themselves where innovation is taking place. We’re also introducing new systems for natural stone which will allow larger format solutions with hidden fixings in both 20mm and 30mm thickness. That’s in addition to new hidden fixing systems for 20mm ceramic panels, ensuring we can offer larger formats in both stone and ceramic at competitive costs.

Cladding TrendsThe architect’s vision for Brighton Marina, which is currently under construction, includes Aliva UK’s ceramic cladding.

So to come back to the original question posed by the blog, what will buildings look like in 2016? Well, it seems architects will be using new innovations to make a statement this year with large, high-shine finishes. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing the results.

Darren Gormer

Darren Gormer is Sales Manager for Aliva UK

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