Coated architectural aluminium and anodised aluminium have long life expectancy and are frequently specified on projects in the UK as a result of the durability and the aesthetically pleasing finishes available. It is a testament to the dedicated work of the AFA members over the last 30 years that these finishes have become so resilient to the British weather. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that AFA members wish to see just how these finishes are performing over time.
At the last meeting of AFA members in September, Professor Michael Stacey, Chair of Architecture at Nottingham University, offered some feedback on recent research he has undertaken on existing buildings. All completed over 20 years ago, buildings have been chosen which predominantly use aluminium in their external envelope. The building envelopes are being inspected to provide valuable information as to their current condition and importantly where they are within their life cycle.
In the UK we seem to have the attitude of ‘build and forget’, with little or no external maintenance. As a result, today we see structures which show signs of staining on aluminium finishes, these stains can mistakenly be taken for ‘failure’ of the finish. Maintenance is key to sustain acceptable aesthetics and building owners are beginning to take note, particularly on some of the UK’s excellent BREEAM rated buildings. In the future this will no doubt form part of a buildings sustainability rating, furthering the life expectancies of finishes.
Michael’s work is part of a wider research programme, ‘Towards Sustainable Cities’ which is a partnership in conjunction with the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), where the life expectancy of the aluminium facade, with all its constituent materials, is being studied. It is expected that with detailed feedback of the current condition of these structures; designers, fabricators, installers, and providers of aluminium finishes, can further improve material design and coating formulations to extend sustainability.
Members of the AFA look forward to the initial findings of the research which is to be published soon.