Mention curtain walling to any specifier or contractor and it’s an odds on bet they won’t associate the term with residential projects. However, technical developments have gradually extended the design scope of such systems, first to multiple occupancy housing and subsequently to individual architect-designed homes.
So, what has prompted this? When you look at what curtain walling is this should come as no real surprise. Essentially, it is a façade with framing made of metal, PVCu or timber with vertical or horizontal elements. These are anchored to the supporting structure to provide the functions of an external wall without it being load-bearing. This has positive benefits in terms of installation speed and cost.
In addition, though PVCu is still used extensively in house building it has clear drawbacks, particularly in terms of expansion and contraction. Aluminium, by contrast, is highly stable and therefore offers a far longer design life. Importantly, aluminium has inherent strength and lightweight that PVCu does not.
Developments in thermal technology affecting aluminium systems is also a commonly cited reason for their use. Those from manufacturers such as Kestrel Aluminium retain heat effectively providing maximum thermal efficiency using polyamide thermal breaks which interrupt thermal transfer through an architectural aluminium profile.
They also provide an exceptional standard of durability, a feature assisted greatly by modern powder coating techniques. Enhanced colour fastness and coating stability prevent any risk of peeling, flaking or fading, retaining an as-installed appearance for years to come.
Such a noticeably improved, lasting visual aesthetic is enhanced by the ability to manufacture any RAL shade to meet project-specific requirements. Specialist manufacturers can also produce dual colours to complement existing or planned facets of interior and exterior design.
Add to that the total recyclability of aluminium and it also scores highly in terms of sustainability. Only 5-10% of the energy used in the production of the primary metal is needed when refabricating from recovered material.
A prime example of a housing project in which curtain walling has been installed as a primary feature is the development of five and six-bedroom houses by CALA Homes on the Coton House Estate near Rugby.
A Kestrel Aluminium 100mm box and plate curtain walling system incorporating 60mm casement windows create a dramatic frontage in each case. Used in conjunction with low U-value double glazing units, the result is secure, energy-efficient and stylish.
Whether for highly complex architecture or a simple feature of housing design, aluminium curtain walling offers the widest range of uses. With its critical combination of aesthetics and high functionality, the material is surely set to secure a steadily increasing market share.