The construction industry is ever-evolving. Facades which have always been an important aspect of a building from a design standpoint, have also been through a major overhaul. In India, architects today are combining the latest advances in materials with cutting edge technologies to present innovative facade designs.
From wood to stone, clay, glass to some of the highly functional and creative materials of the current day, faade materials have now become more of a functional element rather than purely aesthetic. The new building materials are a result of constant innovation where new and hybrid forms of existing materials are repurposed for better quality and output.
GFRC is one of the most versatile, lightweight moulding materials available today. It is developed to construct complex yet strong wall profiles. It is available in a plethora of designs, shades, forms and textures as a result of which it has become a preferred choice among contemporary designers. GFRC is 50-70% lighter than ordinary concrete and has more compressive strength. It is highly adaptable, easy to install, impact-resistant, durable and non-combustible. It disperses/absorbs sound and is environment friendly.
This is best suited for the lightweight construction of exterior walls and interior partitions. The hollow blocks weigh 60% less than solid concrete blocks of the same size. They provide excellent thermal insulation, enhanced compressive strength and better water absorption. Their relatively larger size and low weight help reduce dead loads, save structural costs and aid faster construction.
HPL cladding is widely used in exterior and interior applications. HPL is available in an array of shades, shapes, textures, thickness, perforations and styles which offer unique and elegant appeal to the buildings. They are particularly suitable for demanding and decorative applications such as wall cladding, furniture, sanitary facilities etc. These versatile panels are easy to install, durable and low on maintenance. HPL has the highest bonding strength between the layers as compared to other materials. The other features include weather and UV resistance, climate shock tolerance, termite and fungal resistance, inherent panel strength, reduce direct sun exposure and reduce energy consumption and colour stability. It is best suited for elevation faade cladding, balcony casing, louvres, roof cladding and fencing.
UPHC is a fibre-reinforced cementitious concrete material that has a dense matrix and very low permeability that prevents the ingress of harmful materials such as chlorides. It is a novel construction material that offers superior mechanical performance, durability, low maintenance, enhanced resilience along with aesthetic value. Its compressive strength is 10 times higher and abrasion resistance is twice as much as ordinary concrete.
ACPs as cladding materials have been around in India for quite some time. Although there has been an influx of many new materials, ACP still holds its place for its versatility (available in a range of colours, styles, textures and shades) and the number of benefits it brings along. ACP consists of two thin coil-coated aluminium sheets as the outer and inner layers which sandwich a coating of polyethylene. It is a highly flexible robust material that aids smooth installation of both exterior and interior cladding. It is lightweight, easy to handle and durable. It is dust resistant, weather-resistant. ACP provides an appealing look to the buildings and has antimicrobial properties. It offers excellent thermal insulation and comes with enhanced durability. Its low-maintenance feature cuts down on environmental impact and in turn, reduces the carbon footprint.
Terracotta is a material manufactured with natural and aged raw clay and water. The materials are ejected in vacuum and fired at high temperature that develops great hardness and compactness making the resultant product durable and long-lasting. It can be used as part of rain-screen cladding, sunshade or precast solution. Terracotta ventilated faade system provides enhanced thermal performance; terracotta louvres and baguettes can considerably reduce direct sun exposure and reduce energy consumption. It is an eco-friendly, safe and low-cost material that can be recycled and reused for exterior walls.
Metal cladding has turned out to be a smart choice for cladding homes and commercial buildings in recent times. They are available in different materials including aluminium, zinc, copper, steel, zinc and suchlike. It is one of the most durable options as it provides structural protection and stability against wind loads, sunlight, pollutants, water damage and is resistant to corrosion and electrochemical reactions. It is lightweight, easy to install as compared to other cladding materials and is easy to maintain. Its versatile nature (available in an array of colours, shades, designs, shapes and textures) can help give the building the look of your choice. The growing demand for metal claddings is also because it is eco-friendly and budget-friendly.
ETFE or Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene is a fluorite-based plastic that can withstand high temperatures and promote solar efficiency. ETFE membranes and cushions weigh only a fraction of glass material and hence reduces the load and improve the structural adaptability. It is tear-resistant, UV resistant and durable. Due to its superior light transmission properties, it is being used as a replacement for other glazing materials. ETFE foils can be printed and fritted with a range of patterns; the fritting can be used to reduce solar gain while retaining transparency. It is a sustainable material that requires minimum energy for transportation and installation and can be completely recycled.
Also known as Fibre Reinforced Polymer, FRP is a composite material comprising of a polymer matrix blended with reinforcing materials, such as fibres. The fibre content in this is generally made of carbon, glass, basalt, aramid or in certain cases may also use asbestos, paper or wood. It exhibits low weight and high strength. Its benefits include structural strength and design freedom, high impact strength, ease of installation, long-term safety, and low maintenance cost. FRP has high resistance to corrosive chemicals and harsh environments.
Corten steel comes as an amazing package of delivering aesthetics with functionality. It is made up of iron, copper, phosphorous, silicon, nickel, and chromium-based alloy. Due to the oxidation process, although the top alloy layer rusts, the oxygen cannot enter through otherwise. This weather-resistant and anti-corrosion material is suitable for wall cladding, roofing, structural beams and support. Its various colours, shades and textures offer freedom to the architects without compromising on durability and structural strength. It is resistant to UV rays and up to ten times more durable than ordinary steel and the anti-corrosion properties are also better than steel.
The cladding industry is flooded with new materials every few years. Architects, engineers and designers should smartly choose their building materials that are also sustainable in the long run.