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Architectural façade facelift

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Innovations in building design and construction technology are enabling fascinating façades. Ravindra Verma, Chief Architect, Utkarsh Kothari & Associates (UKA) briefs on the new developments and use of Zinc in one of his projects.

Architects believe in “form follows function”, yet, it is the facade that gives the first impact to any building. Therefore architects are always experimenting with building elevation and strive to design creative and multifaceted exteriors. Today fluidic fascia and perforated second skin is the trend in façade design.

Although historically the construction industry has been perceived as a slow adopter of technology, in recent years things have changed drastically. The technology available now is known to have increased productivity, quality and resultant new products now meet the stringent sustainability norms. In sync, architecture in India is breaking away from conventional glass facades as designers are gradually getting more exposed to technology and new material, that are available easily. Latest material choices and trends enable us to achieve aesthetics combined with sustainability and economy. New materials are also allowing us to break away from the traditional exteriors and still achieve energy efficiency.

Façade treatments & challenges: A wide variety of new age constituents are now accessible for planning a façade such as, VMZINC – zinc & titanium, HPL, stone, granite and aluminum etc., each with their own unique aesthetic value. Architects are also on the lookout for natural recyclable materials with zero or minimum wastage that do not have post-consumer recyclable content. The aim is to satisfy the needs of present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their needs. For example, VMZINC is a relatively new but quite exciting product in the Indian market. It’s highly suitable for roofing and facade as Zinc is naturally resistant to corrosion, is extremely durable and does not require costly maintenance. In addition, the flexibility, malleability and versatility of zinc combined with its pleasing appearance, makes it a material of choice. If used imaginatively, zinc can achieve fluidic forms. It goes well even with small size projects.

However new architectural materials are mostly promoted by dealers or agents who generally lack the capability of providing technical support to the architects. A new material cannot be adopted just for the sake of it. It should be backed by design and technical support to help the architect understand its properties and the best way to use it in its correct form. Therefor fixing details / typical CAD details should be made available to understand the material completely and utilize the full potential of the product. For instance, VMZINC in-house technical design team rendered design support at all times during the project implementation. Likewise, installation should always be carried out by company trained agencies or trained local contractors. Unfortunately new facade material is treated as a substitute for other available materials and it is presumed that same installation agencies can install it, as well.

Case Study: Commercial Building, Allahabad

With a vision to create a landmark building in the city, the client, Dr. Gulati wanted an innovative, aesthetically distinct, long lasting and zero maintenance façade. His acceptability to experiment with façade treatment enabled us to zero in on zinc as it came closest to the parameters of – aesthetics, durability, flexibility of application and ease of installation which gave us the confidence to transform the design idea into reality.

Design & Installation: Facade surface was projected from the main building by 900mm using RHS sections thus, creating a double skin. “United Diagnostics” Logo was the main highlight of the facade which was done using customized circular perforations of varying diameters on VMZINC Interlocking Panels. The panels in the logo area were installed with a hairline joint in order to have a continuous logo pattern. Rest of the facade was designed as an opaque facade which was the project requirement.

To create the opacity required for the external skin, zinc was used in an interlocking panel technique. Laid vertically, this technique made it possible to play with variable modulation and variable joints. The zinc form was designed to wrap around the construction, giving it the appearance of a monolith. The junction details between the various zinc sections were finalized so as to give an impression of continuity. As a result, the zinc gives the building a continuous opaque skin that helps it blend harmoniously with the environment.

Maintenance: Pre-weathered Quartz Zinc is a 100% natural finish zinc and dose not have a coated surface thereby needing zero maintenance. Zinc is a living metal and can take care of weather abrasions, scratches etc by itself because of its self-healing and self-cleaning properties. VMZINC Interlocking Panels are completely dry joint system without the use of sealants. They don’t require any maintenance as compared to other facade materials like ACP where silicon starts bleeding after couple of monsoons and leaves a streaking effect on panels.


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