Over the last 50 years metallurgy has advanced and there’s now an even broader pallet of metals and finishes available for architects, designers and engineers to choose from, which has made the specification process even more complex.
But there is no single streamline way to specify architectural metals and this is widely due to the fact that no two metals or projects are the same.
The more detail you have at the specification stage the better, although we know that that’s not always possible. However, there are a few key elements that you should always consider…
Cadisch MDA, suppliers of bespoke architectural metals, recommend that when specifying you understand the application, aesthetic and performance needs of the metal, as these factors will all influence the type of material, finish and fixing system best suited to your project.
The application of the product will affect the type of metal you specify. Installing metal mesh for ceilings and coffers for example, will require a smaller mesh type.
It will also affect how the material is fixed. Early consultation with façade engineers will benefit the development and realisation of both the client and specifier’s visions for the building. The type of construction, material and layout style of the building will all lend a hand to influencing the most suitable fixing system for the project.
The climate of application can also play its role in the specification process, particularly when it comes to finishes. A powder coated finish for example has a high resistance to chipping, scratching, fading and corrosion, which could make it a more suitable in urban environments where the metal is exposed to a wider risk of damage. Anodising on the other hand is UV stable and easy to maintain, which makes it ideal for applications such as large building façades whereby the metal is exposed to direct sunlight and requires easy cleaning.
The aesthetic of the product can often be a main guiding factor in a project and details such as the type of finish that that you want to achieve can impact both the price and type of mesh that you specify. Therefore, understanding the aesthetics as early as possible in the specification stage has key benefits.
Finer woven meshes fabricated from materials such as steel, copper, bronze and brass are produced in the same way that a normal fabric is made on a loom. Manufacturers such as Cadisch MDA allow you to create bespoke meshes by combining different materials in the weave, in which case you will need to specify the type of wire and diameter that is to go in the weft (horizontal position) and which is in the warp (vertical position).
They can also offer speciality finishes for those looking to achieve a unique aesthetic. Their new Xerotec range offers a series of patinas that can now be brought into the internal environment, as well as wet look textures, leaf litter imaging and even a near perfect carbon fibre match.
Another factor to consider when specifying is the level of privacy you are aiming to achieve. This could affect the type of metal, open area and the way it is installed. Expanded metal for example will offer two different views depending which way you install. One side will show the panel to be open when looking up from the ground and the other will show it as closed.
Having this knowledge at the specification stage will also help with the quality of the finish. There is often a visually good and a processed side of the metal (especially when anodising). Knowing which way you want the metal installed can ensure blemishes such as clamp marks are hidden from view.
Finally, specifiers should consider the overall performance requirements of the metal. Is it purely aesthetic or will does it require an element of functionality? For example, Wardrop & Stevenson required a suitable metal for a table top that was designed into their award winning showgarden at the BBC’s Gardener’s World Live. The metal table needed to be rigid enough so that it could be hoisted up on a pulley to open up the pergola. The designers opted for a strong 2mm aluminium sheet from Cadisch MDA’s Perftec range, which was perforated into a bespoke design of a honeysuckle plant. Wardrop and Stevenson later won the Silver medal award at the show.