Cladding of Buildings

Cladding of Buildings

Cladding of Buildings

Cladding of Buildings


Written by a leading specialist, this book addresses the topic of lightweight claddings in buildings. Fully revised to take into account new developments over the last decade, this edition incorporates the latest environmental issues. As new materials and processes are gradually introduced into the building industry, manufacturers respond to the demand for new technology to relate changes in performance requirements. The book is illustrated throughout with photographs and line drawings.


Since the first publication of Cladding of Buildings in 1983, there have been considerable developments in cladding systems and their use in architectural projects. In the main, there has been an increased interest in the use of suspended glazing. M. Stacey (1990) traced the development of suspended glazing from its early use at the Willis Faber Dumas building, Ipswich, by Foster Associates in 1973 through to East Croydon Railway Station (1992), where 12 mm thick glass spanned 3.4 m between fittings supported by cast outriggers. There are now (1996) many types of suspended glazing fittings throughout Europe in addition to Pilkington (Planar) and the RFR fitting from companies including Marcus Summers, MAG, Seele, Eckelt, Vegla, Octatube and SIV (see Chapter 6).

Some of the references included in the early chapters of this book may look a little dated to today’s architect. This is partly because of the lack of popularity of some of the materials such as glass-reinforced cement (GRC) and glass-reinforced polyester (GRP) and the consequent lack of development in this field. In contrast, composite metal cladding and suspended glass technology have expanded rapidly in the last decade, and the references in these chapters will seem much fresher to the reader. The reason for leaving in the old references is that continued access to this knowledge base, which is still relevant to the manufacture and use of the materials, may be of assistance both to manufacturers and designers involved in the development of these materials, and may encourage a re-emergence of interest in these types of cladding.

Over the last 10 years architects have shown little interest in GRP and GRC, partly because of the increased cost of the resins and partly because of concerns over weatherability and micro-cracking associated with early formulations of these materials.

Profiled metal cladding has continued to play a part in industrial buildings, and metal composite systems have increased their market share because of the increased speed of erection and greater reliability of the insulation compared with those of built-up systems.

Rain screen cladding and overcladding has also been an important area of development, particularly for applications in high-rise tower blocks, where over-cladding offers the opportunity to transform the appearance of the building while improving its thermal performance and durability. There have been some problems with fire performance, and research is still required to optimize the requirements for ventilation within the cavity behind the front skin, taking consideration of the need for fire barriers to reduce fire spread.

Despite the general dissatisfaction with the concrete cladding used on many of the original high-rise blocks of the 1960s and 1970s, the precast manufacturers and, in particular in the UK Trent Concrete, have sustained their share of the cladding market using reconstituted stone cladding.

Increasingly, building has become the collation of factory-made items surrounded by in situ construction. The machine has moved from the building site to the factory. The modern architect thus needs to know the parameters of the manufacturing process and its related quality control procedures in the same way that he or she was traditionally involved in the site process. The trend away from nomination and named specification to performance specification is a mixed blessing in that it further distances the designer from the maker (Stacey, 1991).

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