Engaging with cladding

// the building envelope

Modern cladding systems can encourage people to take more of an interest in housing regeneration projects. Simon Gregory, Business Development Manager at Proteus Facades, tells us how.

Cladding has been used as a building element for centuries, although it is only relatively recently that it has undergone a resurgence. As a result, most developments now incorporate cladding into their design and this growth looks set to continue due to the ongoing introduction of new materials and finishes.

Our honeycomb core system offers a number of benefits as it allows one panel system to be specified with a number of different material finishes, including metal, ceramic or back painted glass. The honeycomb core enables larger panels to be manufactured with near-perfect optical flatness, potentially reducing the amount of secondary railing systems required subject to panel orientation, and dramatically reducing the potential of ‘oil canning’ that can occur on solid panels due to minor undulations across the surface causing distortion
of light.
With the honeycomb core being lightweight yet strong it also minimises the load of the rainscreen cladding transferred to the main building structure. This can reduce the amount of supporting structures required within the building design. For example, a traditional masonry built façade may require more internal supporting elements, which tend to have a higher embodied energy.
We recently supplied a project that illustrates the benefits of rainscreen cladding systems. Family Mosaic, one of the largest housing and care and support service providers in the south-east, undertook a large regeneration project. This involved redevelopment of Heathside and Lethbridge, two adjoining 1950’s council-owned housing estates in the London Borough of Lewisham. Phase 2 involved creating 190 multi-occupancy new dwellings of mixed tenure. These new homes are being offered for affordable rent, shared ownership and private sale within mid-rise apartment buildings and a landmark 17-storey tower that gives residents excellent views across London.
BPTW architects specified our honeycomb core Proteus HR cladding panels in varying shades of blue, alongside our single skin solid panels in graduated yellows and orange for the balconies.
The contemporary design adopted on Phase 2 set the precedent on this project, which meant that future phases 3-6 adopted similar material treatments and appearances. The cladding panels now create the central visual focus of the design, projecting outwards from the buff coloured brickwork.
This effect has been accentuated on some of the mid-rise blocks by fixing the blue honeycomb-core cladding panels vertically and horizontally, creating a sense of movement across the development. The honeycomb core rainscreen cladding panels are fixed vertically where there is full-length glazing, which frames these elements. The panels act as a rainscreen cladding system, protecting the building from the elements. 
Use of rainscreen cladding and balcony cladding on this project avoids the brickwork elements overly dominating its surrounding. It is the fusion of these different materials and finishes that announce the new point of arrival, avoiding the issue on the original estate where the masonry structure seemed to impose itself on the community. Rather than this, flashes of colour, intriguing glazing elements, and subtle buff brickwork create a patchwork of elements.
This high-density yet high-quality development sits within an overall outline consented £200m master plan. It will deliver 512m2 of retail floor space, 768m2 of community floor space, an energy centre, public spaces including a square, central park green space and play facilities, plus a day nursery. The 1,000+ one to four-bedroomed residential units were designed to Code Level 4, with over 50% designed for private sale to help funding, in buildings ranging from three to 17 storeys in height.
One of the regeneration project’s key objectives was a high degree of resident involvement in both design and logistics, even down to apartment layouts, the materials used, and landscaping. Existing council tenants had the option to move into the new homes once they were built. The cladding elevated interest in the development from the outset and played its part in creating a cohesive, attractive housing regeneration project.


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