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A1 Facades – Combining Fire Resistance With Design Flexibility

The facade is one of the most important components of a building. It protects the interior of the building against external weather elements that could be harmful and it provides thermal comfort for the inhabitants. In addition, it has a significant influence on the energy consumption and maintenance costs of the building. Therefore, facades must meet high requirements with respect to fire protection.

Often, these requirements are specified through the requirement to use non-combustible facade materials on high-rise buildings or special buildings (e.g. schools, hospitals). However, these requirements are often difficult to satisfy and lead to a loss of architectural freedom. As a result, designers and architects are increasingly looking for solutions that combine fire resistance with design flexibility.

The adaptive facade (AF) a1facades.co.uk is a solution for these challenges. The objective of the AF is to allow the facade to react to user demands or environmental conditions through the integration of technology into the façade. This is done by replacing traditional building service equipment such as ventilation systems, e.g. by using actuators for controlling the airflow into or out of the building. This also allows the facade to change its visual appearance and to communicate inspiration or themes of a building.

A number of different AFs have already been developed. They include, for example, the sun-adaptive facade that moves its window louvers depending on the position of the sun or the wind-activated facade that adjusts its louvres to protect the building from storms and high winds. The AF also includes the hydroactive façade that collects rainwater and stores it in a water tank for later evaporation on the surface of the facade.

In the future, the AF will play an even more important role in sustainable building design and construction. It will contribute to increased resource efficiency, reduced emissions during the production and operation of a building and, last but not least, higher occupant comfort. This trend is driven by increasing demand for cladding systems with good reaction to fire and insulation that offer a high degree of transparency.

To meet this demand, Tata Steel is introducing its new A1 facade system. The system combines the benefits of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with the structural performance of the brick slip facade. It is made from Colorcoat Prisma pre-finished steel with a Galvalloy(r) metallic coating and offers excellent corrosion resistance and cut edge protection. The facades are supported by a profiled steel deck, which removes the need for continuous OSB or plywood backing boards normally used in brick slip systems and increases the speed of installation.

To investigate the potential of a decentralized, facade integrated ventilation system to act as an AF, this contribution presents a real building case study that is analyzed using the life cycle assessment method. The motivations for using a facade integrated ventilation system are evaluated and further motivators identified. In order to do this, the system is assessed in terms of its functionality as well as in terms of its economic and ecological feasibility.

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