Building Envelope blog posts
Steel facades are no longer only for industrial buildings
| May. 5, 2020
I always try to find the most functional solution to fit designers’ and developers’ needs and wishes. During the past two years working primarily in the Finnish market, I have recognised a growing trend towards using metal surfaces.
It seems that the ”dull industrial material” is becoming ”chic” in other applications as well. As one senior-level architect mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago: ”Steel is back in style now. It’s like cloclthing trends in the fashion world… what goes around comes around”. After the discussion I started to think if it’s just a fling of fashion or is there something else behind this.
The designer’s imagination is the only limit
It seems to me that one reason for the growing trend is based on the development in the metal sector during the past few years. Earlier you had only ”fifty shades of gray” to choose from, and maybe a silverish colour if you were getting extreme. Now the portfolio is huge, you can choose from different colours and colour combinations (e.g. chameleontic colours) for facades, glosses, different brushed looks, textures, patterns (e.g. terracotta look-a-like) and freely-designed perforations. This gives lots of freedom to designers to work on.
Prefabricated facade products and modularity improve quality and reduce waste
Also modularity has played a big role in the construction industry within recent years. In the case for metal facade products, these are examples of prefabricated products which are normally manufactured under factory conditions. Using prefabricated products uniforms quality, takes away the waste from the construction site and speeds up the installation work. I think growth in modularity thinking comes from the fact that we need to be more efficient every day, and at same time, ensure superb and uniform quality in construction.
Steel is also a lightweight construction system that minimises loads on the back frame, and therefore saves on sub-structure costs. Needing to perform better with less time and money leads to modularity and prefabrication.
Steel facades on residential buildings
The use of metal facades has grown dramatically especially in the urban multi-storey residential building sector in recent years. Of course the residential building sector has been the leading area in Finnish construction lately, but I’m talking about the share of metal facades in the new building sector.
Concrete-based systems have traditionally been the most used facade materials on residential buildings in Finland, but now I can see a trend in metal and wood-based facades for the reasons I mentioned above. Metals and wood are good materials also in terms of sustainability: wood is renewable and metal is an almost fully-recycled material. In my opinion, wooden material has also got some political aspects behind it due to the fact that Finland produces plenty of wood.A rolling stone gathers no moss! Stay curious and see what metal facades can offer nowadays (and see our materials at ruukki.com/facadematerials)!