Aluminium in action

John Park-Davies, managing director at Ikon Aluminium Systems, argues that the rise in the popularity of aluminium products is not just the whim of the specifier.

There’s a reason that around 70% of louvres are manufactured from aluminium, having been the case for many years. Aluminium out-performs alternative materials; and this is certainly true of louvres.

Specifiers have long-since recognised that aluminium is the best option when selecting a louvre system. While aluminium has been overshadowed by PVCU in residential fenestration products over the past 20-30 years, commercially, the aluminium market has been steadily increasing with architects drawn to its attributes.

Aluminium balances performance with aesthetics. Architects and designers appreciate the natural artistry of the aluminium louvre, with its symmetry and bold lines. Dummy louvres are a popular choice for harmonising architectural designs while demand for continuous louvres has risen as architects look for practical ways to obscure unappealing features.

Our products are often installed in exposed, inaccessible locations, and subject to extreme changes in temperature and, in some instances, bird strikes, vandalism and security are all considerations. Aluminium is fit for purpose. Whether it’s a screening louvre to disguise rooftop plant, where water penetration won’t cause too many problems and cost is a consideration, or a barrier louvre designed to cover areas where fall from height is an issue, aluminium provides a durable yet attractive solution.

In this environmentally conscious age, neither can we overlook its recyclability. The Council for Aluminium Building (CAB) states that the recycling rates for architectural aluminium is 92%-98%, with only 5% of the original energy taken to recycle it. Age does not alter its recyclability and it can be reused again and again without impacting on physical properties or value.

Louvres can improve the energy efficiency of a building by increasing air flow and optimising natural ventilation. Nowhere is this more important than in student accommodation. Health, safety and wellbeing are crucial. Contemporary halls of residence are designed and built to enable students to live and study in a healthy, safe environment, catering for different needs and circumstances.

Early in the design of The Cycle Works, a purpose-built student hall at Coventry University, it was recognised that in order to create a healthy and comfortable environment for the students, good airflow would be required. With this in mind, aluminium barrier louvres were specified, and our IKL505 louvre system installed in selected window and door apertures throughout the building.

The IKL505 60mm elliptical blade barrier louvres negate the need for windows and doors to have restrictor systems fully engaged, all of the time. They help limit the risk of persons falling or items being thrown or accidently dropped out of the opening, from height, onto the area or people below. It is a safety barrier.

In specifying aluminium barrier louvres, the architects benefitted from the performance credentials of the material and louvre system, and the aesthetics. To complement the brick and render facade of The Cycle Works, the barrier louvres were powder coated in grey (RAL 7043). The finish added to the architectural beauty of the product while also boosting the metal’s inherent durability.

Needless to say, this is just one example of aluminium in action. The increasing use of this silvery-grey metal isn’t a vagary. It’s proven. Specifiers are selecting aluminium for everything from economic louvre doors for bin stores and plant rooms, to PAS24-compliant doors for bike stores and bio-mass facilities. Aluminium is versatile, it provides options, and this is why it will achieve sustained growth in both the domestic and commercial markets.