Guest blog: Staying socially connected

By Anthony Millington 08-12-2020

Challenging times ahead continue and the demand for creative solutions in shared spaces to ensure we are physically distancing from one another yet, staying socially connected are still very much in demand. Here,  Aida Roca, Area Sales Manager at Kriskadecor, a company that creates highly customised projects made with anodised aluminium chain links, explains how creating dramatic spaces can change atmospheres with feature designs in bespoke colours and sizes yet ensuring a safe distance.

The “new normal” will have a direct impact on the design of shared spaces given the need to implement protection and physical distancing guidelines in public spaces including bars, restaurants, hotels, offices and shops.

To adapt to this new reality, we offer a lightweight, durable and sustainable alternative that is more relevant than ever: fully customised dividers which can define common areas, manage the flow of people, organise access or create subspaces without the need to implement heavy structures.

With anodised aluminium chain links, we create design solutions that encourage people to remain separate, transmitting security, confidence, and positive emotions. In addition, due to the versatility and lightness of the chains, the partitions integrate perfectly into any project.

Likewise, thanks to the translucency of the chains, our partitions manage to ‘separate without dividing’, that is to say, create subspaces that do not break the visual field, maintaining the feeling of spaciousness and allowing light to flow freely.

For its part, the client can choose colours, shapes, and dimensions, as well as fixed or mobile systems that are easy to install. It is also possible to reproduce signage elements such as logos or icons, patterns and images in high definition thanks to in-house technology and a 24 colour-palette in brilliant and satin finishes.

As an innovative company, we continually push our limits in terms of aesthetics, creativity and technological advancement. In addition, our technical department collaborates in the development of projects from beginning to end, so the client will be accompanied throughout the process.

It should be noted that both the chains and the rails are made entirely of aluminium, a 100% recyclable material that fits into any project that ensures sustainability. In fact, approximately 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still used today!

Guest blog: Reducing the potential effects of metal corrosion through correct design and maintenance

By Anthony Millington 24-11-2020

Powder coating architectural metalwork provides protection and colour. Here, Richard Besant, Director at Powdertech Corby explains some of the terms that are often bandied around to quantify corrosion in order that the specifier, manufacturer, installer and end user all appreciate some of the key points. 

The importance of process

The relative cost between one colour and another may not be a major cost driver whereas, in the long term, using the correct powder coating process is. It is certainly worthwhile budgeting for the correct process to be applied.

Corrosion is a complicated subject. Guarantees often mention corrosion alongside colour and gloss, but it is a more nuanced element and requires serious consideration. As I often say to customers, “It’s no use asking for a great colour if it’s all peeled off and laying on the ground in five years”. This is the first point I make when specifying metal finishing.

Know your project corrosion category

Approved architectural powder coaters will have access to powder manufacturers’ databases of locations and related corrosion data. For example, you will be able to get information on corrosion levels affecting a hotel in Brighton or a car park in Bradford from forty years of project experience and environmental monitoring. A simple questionnaire confirming the location, elevation, distance from the seashore, prevailing winds and other factors will enable your powder coater to confirm the availability of a corrosion guarantee and the process required to achieve it.

Corrosion categories are becoming more frequently used. Look for notations C1 to C5 which define the corrosion features of that particular environment. The relevant standard is BS EN ISO 9223 : 2012, annex C of which describes categories C1 to C5. The categories are defined by the first-year corrosion rates of standard specimens of exposed copper, steel, zinc and aluminium. In practice the corrosion rates can be estimated using the description of the environment.

Category C3 Outdoor is described as “A temperate zone with medium pollution (SO₂) or some effect of chlorides (Cl) , e.g. urban areas, coastal areas with low deposition of chlorides…….”.

From this we can see the key determinants of the corrosive categories are pollution, measured by the atmospheric concentration of sulphur dioxide (SO₂) and salt, measured by the atmospheric concentration of chlorides (Cl). When combined with elevation, wind direction etc.  the specifier builds up a picture of the atmosphere.

Coastal locations are those closer than 2000 m to the shore.Land-locked Bradford and coastal Brighton may have the same ‘C‘  category depending upon the actual distance from the shore to the building in question in Brighton. The cut-off point is usually 2000 m, i.e. a building that is more than 2000 m from the shoreline is not generally considered to be coastal in the UK.

Knowing the corrosion category gives us a start point for the specification of the powder coat finish.

Understand Qualicoat class meanings

It is worth noting that use of either Qualicoat class 1 or Qualicoat class 2 products has absolutely no influence on the corrosion resistance of the system. The performance properties of a more expensive Qualicoat Class 2 powder relate to the retention of colour and gloss NOT corrosion.

In most UK locations a single coat of polyester powder of average thickness 60 microns will give excellent longevity. An increase in SO₂ or Cl (higher pollution or shorter distance to the sea) will require a thicker ­­­­single coat film or perhaps a primer coat beneath to further protect the metalwork. Discussing your needs with your powder applicator and powder manufacturer (preferably an approved applicator / manufacturer partnership) will result in the best practice.

Ensure a thorough pre-treatment

Lying beneath the colourful topcoat is perhaps the most important part of the powder coating – the bit that you don’t see – pre-treatment. For best results in final coating it is worth budgeting for chemical pre-treatments that are approved to powder coating standard BS EN 12206 or Qualicoat specifications. The treatments will change dependent on the corrosion category. You may hear of two types of  pre-treatment, Chrome VI and Non-Chrome. Performance-wise there is no difference between the two however Chrome VI maybe withdrawn from use.  

Small design details will play a key role

An attractive, functional design is important but must address the corrosion category and powder coating process in order that its lifespan is not compromised. Specific design details are key; namely the bends, folds, welds, gaps, edges, material gauge, recesses and fixing points of an architectural fabrication. For instance, sharp edges are corrosion origination points so need eliminating. Similarly, if material needs to be coated all over to achieve corrosion resistance then the design must allow for this to happen. Your powder coater can provide helpful advice on all these issues.

Low maintenance is not ‘no’ maintenance.

Finally, it makes sense to specify and design a system that supports a low maintenance solution. This can be achieved by spending time (and money) at the start of the process so that the cost can be quantified. For example, ensuring no water traps where chlorides (salt) can build up and initiate corrosion, will add a known cost, whereas the future cost of repair and replacement is unknown. Design with access for cleaning is also important. Low maintenance is not ‘no’ maintenance and your maintenance plan will generally be a simple regular washing routine.

I hope that I have persuaded you that knowing and understanding the corrosion ‘rating’ of your environment, discussing pre-treatments and paying attention to design elements are essential stages in your powder coating selection. Once this framework is set you can select colour, texture and sheen with confidence that the finish will look good for its guaranteed period and often longer.

About the author: Richard Besant is Director of Powdertech (Corby) Ltd, a specialist architectural powder coater, established in 1988 and a leading industry supplier. Powdertech is a member of CAB (Council for Aluminium in Building) and ALFED (Aluminium Federation) and Richard is a member of the committee for EN 13438 – the European standard for powder coating on galvanised steel.

Expose your industrial style

By Anthony Millington 01-10-2020

Despite its simplicity and minimal design tropes, industrial chique manages to create a bold statement and has proven to be a popular style choice within a space. The style was created over 40 years ago when architects and property developers began converting industrial buildings into modern homes. Raw elements of structures are being focused on and the exposure of brickwork and piping is now being considered as stylish and characterful.

Style Inspiration

Style inspiration can come from everywhere and anywhere, so a clearly defined image of what you’re looking to achieve is a good place to start before adopting the look. Industrial design is about natural textures, clean lines and simplicity but also about enhancing the origins and provenance of the building. The rawness of those exposed features can on their own give an industrial feel, but it is a fine line between stylish and unfinished; correctly choosing what to open up and what to keep out of sight gives you the opportunity to be creative.

When renovating a space, industrial style combined with the historical elements of the past can transform the room, allowing occupants to work or live in it comfortably. Originally it was felt that natural and neutral tones work best when teamed with architectural materials such as metal, however splashes of bright colour add a vibrancy to lift and enhance the original features. With the architecture of the building at the forefront, one area to consider is the ceiling – when exposed, it highlights the rawness of the metal, giving the overall industrial look. You can also give the panels a gloss or matt powder coat or inject colour to create a standout finish.  

The Brewery Building

We worked with the architects and design team at Squire and Partners who wanted a full redesign of The Brewery Building in Islington, London. They wanted to reference the area’s local industrial past by adopting a contemporary warehouse aesthetic of the existing 1970s office building.

Four bespoke floating expanded mesh ceiling panels were created for the newly renovated entrance area of the building. The design intent was to use industrial materials but give them a modern look and feel, this was achieved by powder coating all the panels in a gloss black powder coat finish.

When set against the exposed concrete walls and ceilings, the ceilings panels helped create the aesthetic the designers visualised at the beginning of the project.

Wellbeing in the workplace

By Anthony Millington 18-08-2020

A business is nothing without its employees. The success and wellbeing of the business and employees go hand in hand, so for those that have that understanding have a greater sense of adaption, achievement and innovation within the workplace.

Adopting principles 

We all certainly have our days of feeling stressed, lack of control and unenthused, but having an employer who recognises these and understands they are detriment to staff and company is imperative. Not only can these factors escalate but can also be precursors to our mental health, so it starts at the top – there has to be a real commitment from leadership in order to influence the team by ‘actioning’ not just saying so and ticking a box.

For us, we are just one of many cogs in the design and creation of a building and considering we too spend a huge amount of time in the workplace means we fully understand it should be a haven where staff can thrive.

Well-managed, well-appreciated and well-resourced can have a lasting impact on employee engagement and organisational performance. Adopting these simple principles will help prevent stress and create a positive environment.

We understand

When approached by customers about our product, we don’t just give them what they ask for – that would be easy. We engage and understand the brief and then we consult on the best suitable product. We are passionate about how our product will interact and complement the project, I guess you could say we want the best for our product and the project just like we want the best for employees.

When working with Oktra to help provide a creative mesh solution for their project with sportswear brand, Gymshark, one of the first things we did was to gain an understanding of Gymshark – a business that prioritises its employees as well as its customers. Their brief was simple – create the ultimate gym exclusive to Gymshark employees to boost wellbeing at its Solihull headquarters.

This was a private space, that acts as a back-of-house facility and brings formerly outsourced functions together under one roof.

Working closely with Oktra we were able to recommend the most suitable expanded mesh to feature as partitions in the centre of the gym, the partitions had a dual purpose of creating a breakout area for employees but also providing a sense of privacy. Our Zircon 114 was best suited for the partition screens and were provided in mild steel, raw finish to help create an industrial look and feel to the space.

This was a brief we could fully relate to, a workplace that has adopted principles.

Adopting principles 

We all certainly have our days of feeling stressed, lack of control and unenthused, but having an employer who recognises these and understands they are detriment to staff and company is imperative. Not only can these factors escalate but can also be precursors to our mental health, so it starts at the top – there has to be a real commitment from leadership in order to influence the team by ‘actioning’ not just saying so and ticking a box.

For us, we are just one of many cogs in the design and creation of a building and considering we too spend a huge amount of time in the workplace means we fully understand it should be a haven where staff can thrive.

Well-managed, well-appreciated and well-resourced can have a lasting impact on employee engagement and organisational performance. Adopting these simple principles will help prevent stress and create a positive environment.

We understand

When approached by customers about our product, we don’t just give them what they ask for – that would be easy. We engage and understand the brief and then we consult on the best suitable product. We are passionate about how our product will interact and complement the project, I guess you could say we want the best for our product and the project just like we want the best for employees.

When working with Oktra to help provide a creative mesh solution for their project with sportswear brand, Gymshark, one of the first things we did was to gain an understanding of Gymshark – a business that prioritises its employees as well as its customers. Their brief was simple – create the ultimate gym exclusive to Gymshark employees to boost wellbeing at its Solihull headquarters.

This was a private space, that acts as a back-of-house facility and brings formerly outsourced functions together under one roof.

Working closely with Oktra we were able to recommend the most suitable expanded mesh to feature as partitions in the centre of the gym, the partitions had a dual purpose of creating a breakout area for employees but also providing a sense of privacy. Our Zircon 114 was best suited for the partition screens and were provided in mild steel, raw finish to help create an industrial look and feel to the space.

This was a brief we could fully relate to, a workplace that has adopted principles.

The finishing line: Powder coating processes

By Anthony Millington 16-07-2020

Whether you’re new to using powder coatings or an experienced pro, you’re probably aware that powder coating is an excellent painting method that creates a tough, durable and beautiful finish. 

Powder coating is a cost-effective way to apply an almost unlimited range of colours to metal and mesh products. Powder coating uses an electrostatic charge to attract a fluidised powder evenly across all surfaces of the mesh.  The electrostatic charge holds the pigmented powder until it passes through an oven where it melts and adheres permanently to the mesh. After curing, the mesh has a colourful and durable coating that adds to the desired aesthetic of the project. 

We have researched several different secondary finish processes that work well with expanded mesh, perforated and profiled sheet, woven wire and gratings. Different materials are subject to varying local environments, such as plain steel rusting in wet conditions, therefore it is essential that appropriate base materials and finishes for interior and exterior applications should be considered for your project. Secondary finishes can be applied to help achieve the desired colour, reflectivity, or where corrosion resistance characteristics are required. 

Working with high quality powder coating companies and to ensure the mesh stays true and square during the process, we only powder coat rigid architectural mesh and Banker Wire mesh if they are welded or attached into a framework.  

Here’s a look into our preferred secondary finish processes: – 

Anomatch 

Anomatch architectural powders have been specially designed to represent architectural anodising on both aluminium and galvanized steel which are unique to Powdertech Corby. Anomatch creates a finish that enhances the metal with a lustrous sheen. Anodised aluminium has a reputation for its ‘living’ quality, with a natural metallic radiance.  

Evolution  

Developed to reflect metallic oxidation and natural patina both in colour and texture; such as rusted steel or Verdigris copper. The Evolution collection uses polyester resin systems to achieve excellent exterior durability and gloss retention. 

Evolution finishes can be applied to aluminium, mild steel, galvanized steel and most metal substrates. When used in combination with chrome-free pre-treatment, Evolution gives a long-lasting and hard-wearing finish. 

Landscape 

The Landscape collection is designed to replicate natural stone finishes found around the world. It uses polyester resin systems to achieve excellent exterior durability, colour and gloss retention for architectural applications – great if you want your project to complement the surrounding landscape or present a striking contrast.

Metal mesh partitions and space dividers: Outside in

By Anthony Millington 01-07-2020

Gabions, gates and grates. Metal mesh has a long tradition of outdoor use spanning hundreds of years. Over time, metal mesh has earned a reputation as a practical, durable yet surprisingly versatile material thanks in part to its uncanny ability to meet a wide range of specifications.

With a variety of practical exterior applications including vent panels, cages and baskets it is little wonder that metal mesh was eventually introduced to the world of interiors. Its inherently superior performance properties led to its adoption as the go-to material for radiator grilles the world over.

Fast-forward to the present day and metal mesh is an invaluable material asset, its reach permeating every industry from agricultural to automotive. Yet, despite metal mesh’s popularity and prevalence in industrial markets, both architects and interior designers alike continue to probe its potential for architectural and creative applications.

Most recently, forward-thinking practices such as Space10 have implemented mesh partitions as a means of mediating the compartmentalised cubicles of yesteryear with increasingly popular open-plan office environments.

Not only would moveable woven and expanded mesh walls and space dividers provide a good interface between open and closed office layouts, they would also enable airflow whilst providing a visible spatial division. This can have a multitude of benefits including better access to natural daylight, increased levels of concentration amongst the workforce and may even help some people curb social anxiety in the workplace.

Statistics show that 40% of the population identify themselves as introverted,  these partitions, albeit open/punctured ones, have a somewhat similar psychological effect as a completely closed-off cubicle would i.e. being walled off from the world and able to fully fixate on tasks at hand. This, in turn, can benefit the quality of life immeasurably for those who would otherwise feel a relative level of discomfort at work and perhaps not perform as well as they could. 

Creative metal mesh screens can also have a huge impact on the health of our workforce. As we prepare to head back to the office amidst the coronavirus pandemic, we must ask ourselves, ‘what can we do to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees?’.

Well, one answer may be to install flexible copper mesh panelling to maintain access to both sunlight and clean air as well as to lower the contagion of Coronavirus. COVID-19 has been found to live for up to only four hours on copper surfaces as opposed to its significantly longer life of seven days on its plastic counterparts.

It’s clear that metal mesh partitions can substantially improve the mental as well as physical well being of workforces all over the world but in what other creative ways can we use metal mesh to better our interiors?

At Amron Architectural we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of metal mesh innovation. Projects such as the recently completed Gymshark Lifting Club, based at the sportswear brand’s headquarters in Solihull, incorporate our metal mesh design whilst simultaneously demonstrating the untapped potential of this unique, and often underrated, material. In keeping with the industrial aesthetic of the interior, we used Zircon 114 – in steel and a raw finish as the best product for the HQ’s industrial style partition screens.

We aim for each and every one of our projects to put forward the argument as to why we should bring what was once considered an ‘outside’ material in and it seems that the time has come to reinvigorate an all-time grate.

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