Aluminium has been a material of choice by architects and specifiers for cladding and sun-control products for a number of years and it can be readily identified in the skylines of the metropolitan areas in southern Africa.
Aluminium is selected as a preferred material primarily for functional and aesthetic reasons and it offers a unique modern style of architecture. The material is lightweight, strong and durable, which results in long-term, low maintenance, high performance products.
For sun control, aluminium has the highest deflection properties of any metal, and thereby becomes the most effective material to achieve the function of protection from the sun and heat.
The climatic conditions in southern Africa dictate the need for a form of sun control on most commercial buildings and in addition aluminium will also assist in reducing energy costs and to some extent has an influence on the choice of mechanical plant required to cool the office space. Sun screens are used primarily for functional purposes, but they can also be used as a combination of aesthetics and functionality.
Aluminium cladding is available in various conformations such as single skin, solid sheet and composite panels. The materials offer a viable solution for both the architects and clients due to the nature of the material, which lends itself to providing long-term options for all concerned.
The products available in this material offer the professionals versatile and creative design options as it can be curved, bent and folded into the desired shape and form.
Aluminium cladding is durable, long-lasting, lightweight (a significant consideration for the engineering aspect of the building), strong and resistant to corrosion. It also offers a low maintenance capability with the corresponding cost saving for the client.
Sustainability and environmental attributes
The strong move towards energy saving and the green concept is increasingly evident in recent times, and has become a major requirement in the design and building of projects.
As a material, aluminium again performs extremely well in this area due to its recycling properties and the longevity of the material. The majority of products on offer consist of at least 70% recycled material, which requires less than 5% of the original energy to produce. The coatings of the products are specialised and also conform to the requirements related to this topic.
Between 95-98% of aluminium in the built environment is eventually recycled, and it is interesting to note that the cost of energy required to produce aluminium has been reduced by 70% since 1900.
Aluminium is a highly durable material and there are recorded projects worldwide still in use over 80 years old – in fact, 75% of all aluminium produced since 1880 is still in use.
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