'High tech' is a misnomer It is not a style of architecture as such, but more of an attitude towards design, taking account of and being involved in the process of construction.Technology-led architecture can be seen as a natural development for the Modern Movement in architecture, allowing the use of appropriate technology to inform the designer's intentions. Some authors have identified a thread through Paxton, Prouvé, Gropius, Waschmann, Ehrencrantz, Foster and so on.
The concepts of flexibility and interchange-ability, as illustrated by such buildings as Farrell and Grimshaw's Herman Miller factory near Bath (GRP panels), and Foster's Sainsbury's Centre (aluminium panels), have now become an acceptable part of an architect's vocabulary.The serviced-shed approach is increasingly familiar; illustrated by the Reliance Controls factory (Team I 0), advanced factory units at Kiln Farm (Milton Keynes architects) and, more recently by the Stratford Market Maintenance Depot, London, 1988, by Chris Wilkinson Architects. Many of these big serviced sheds rely on bright colours, profiled panels and exposed structural grids, all posing new methods of jointing and fixing, not covered by established texts on building construction. Architects' demands for brighter colours with contrasting colours for gaskets, window surrounds and flashings have resulted in a need to reconsider the standards of colour matching and finishes of cladding materials.
As new materials and processes are gradually accepted by the architectural profession, manufacturers respond to an Increased demand for these new products and materials by Introducing their own proprietary solutions onto the market. Under these conditions, architects need to make an initial assessment of these systems in order to select the component most suitable for their clients' needs. In order
to do this they require a comparative study of the various products to allow them to understand the limitations of the manufacturers' proposals, their performance criteria, finishes and assembly techniques.They need to be able to distinguish between the various jointing solutions available and analyse the weathering characteristics of each cladding material.This book is intended to meet their requirement.
The main theme underlying the following chapters is the method of production of each of the eight cladding types discussed. To understand how a material behaves in use it is first necessary to appreciate the processes of its manufacture. Issues such as quality control, cost of production and transportation are fundamental to the proper design of an assembly, and affect decisions on size, shape and finish. The performance of a cladding assembly and particularly its watertightness depends upon its method of jointing; where possible, details are included for each of the applications described. Similarly, the variation in joint size will depend upon the tolerances of construction and the method of fixing used. These are therefore described in detail.
Each chapter contains a description of methods of manufacture, standardization, performance criteria, finishes, durability, jointing, fixing and methods of transportation, storage and erection. There is no particular reason for the order of the chapters other than the fact that precast concrete is arguably the best-known technology, whereas sheet metal and their carrier systems (curtain walling) are the least understood. Glass-reinforced polyester and glass-fibre-reinforced cement tend to be associated with each other; because of the method of their reinforcement, but in fact they are quite different materials, as Chapters 3 and 4 will explain.
Finally, although this book may appear to be about construction, it is also a book about design, for the two are interrelated. It is only through the understanding of technology that the designer can develop design images with confidence. The following chapters summarize the state of the art of cladding technology, and are therefore intended as a contribution towards better design in that field.
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