Since its discovery, aluminium and its alloys have been used in a wide number of structural applications. In terms of building materials, it is one of the most widely used metals, in domestic dwellings and commercial buildings alike. The applications of architectural aluminium in construction are roofing, windows, curtain walling, cladding, glazing structures, architectural hardware, shop fittings etc.
Architectural aluminium is regarded as the building material for modern construction that blends together aesthetics, functionality and design with economic considerations. The use of aluminium enables the realisation of many architectural concepts and innovations. This is made possible due to the many advantageous properties of aluminium that facilitate construction. The key properties of aluminium include:
1. Weatherproof and Durable – Aluminium building components are made from alloys of aluminium which are resistant to corrosion resistant and weatherproof. These components do not get affected by the harmful UV rays and thus, offer consistent performance in the long-term.
2. Flexibility of Design – The process of aluminium extrusion permits a vast variety of sections and forms, enabling architects to use a single profile for multiple purposes. Rolled aluminium products can be curved, flat or sandwiched along with other materials etc. Also, aluminium can be welded, sawed, riveted, drilled, soldered etc.
3. Surface Finish Possibilities – To meet the decorative needs of the designer, aluminium sections can be painted, anodised, using a vast number of surface touches, to achieve any aesthetical effect. The surface finishing process also enhances the corrosion resistance and durability of the metal, making it a win-win situation.
4. Great Reflectivity – The high reflectivity offered by aluminium makes it a suitable choice for managing light. Solar collectors of aluminium are installed to control light and heat energy consumption during the winter season. Similarly, shading devices significantly reduces air conditioning requirements during summer.
5. Non-Combustible for Fire Safety – Classified as a non-combustible material, aluminium doesn’t burn. Certain alloys of aluminium melt at very high temperatures but do not release any harmful gases. External walls and roofs of industrial structures are often made of slender cladding panels of aluminium so that they can melt in the event of a major fire. This will minimise the damage by allowing the smoke and heat to escape.
6. High Security – Aluminium frames are suitable for applications that demand high security. Strengthened and specially designed frames are suitable for such applications. In such applications, even though the weight of the glass may be heavy, the aluminium frame’s lightweight makes the overall weight of the structure easily manageable.
These are some of the advantageous properties of architectural aluminium that make it one of the most preferred choices for a building material in architectural innovation. The metal allows designers and architects to innovate and experiment without worrying about compromising the strength and integrity of a structure. For most modern architects and designers, aluminium has become their holy grail with no alternatives.