Introduction

In architecture the father of pressed metal panel systems, le panneau, is undoubtedly Jean Prouvé. Many such panel systems were developed by Prouvé including his early use of metal composite panels at the Aero Club Roland Garros in 1935 and the facade designed for Cours Conception Construction, an industrialized school building system designed in 1963 (Huber and Steinegger, 1971).

In the 1950s the stainless steel clad Airstream Caravan became a twentieth century icon of préfabrication. Préfabrication predominantly takes two structural forms: monocoque shells and framed construction. Renzo Piano's design for the Fiat VSS experimental vehicle (Fig. 6.1) showed the application of a structural frame and clip-on plastic cladding to car manufacture. Most composite cladding systems in building have been developed for use as spanning between framed construction.

Early examples of metal cladding systems, mainly in the USA and France, usually consisted of metal undersill panels mounted into curtain walling assem-

6.1 Fiat car by Renzo Piano.

blies known in the USA as 'stick' systems, or in France as la grille. In this way a continuous curtain wall could be used, with the metal, solid (non-glazed) panels masking the floors and columns. Such infill panels were often small in size (typically 1.75 m long x 0.75 m high), and were often pressed into a decorative or embossed profile. During the 1950s such systems were in widespread use in multi-storey buildings, typified by the rigid chequer-pattern facades produced by the exposed curtain walling framework (Fig. 6.2).

Aesthetic objections to this form of facade, together with improved legislation on energy conservation and insulation, encouraged architects to consider complete panel assemblies, in which the solid, insulation and opening elements are fabricated on subframes in the factory and transported to the site and erected as one unit.

There are essentially four types of sheet metal and composite panel system (Fig. 6.3):

- rolled flat sheet panels mounted onto a supporting framework;

6.2 Typical metal cladding system in the USA.

- box-type panels (including proprietary panels), usually with foamed cores;

- laminated panels;

- rain screen panels.

The second and third types can be considered as composite metal panels.

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