Installing Cembrit fibre cement rainscreen panels as thin as 8mm using mechanical secret fixings just became quicker, easier and safer thanks to the innovative new range of TUF-S rivets by the world’s leading fastening systems manufacturer SFS.

Extensive testing by SFS demonstrated how TUF-S challenges the convention that installers need to use different fasteners for different panel materials and thicknesses. Until now, no other rivet of this kind has provided a reliable secret fix for panels manufactured in both HPL and fibre cement.

The TUF-S range is designed to eliminate the risk of overtightening which can ruin the aesthetics of a façade and result in very costly damage. It consists of nine variants of A4 stainless steel fixings, with a carbon steel mandrel, that can be used to secure a range of panel thicknesses to the rainscreen support clips using the GESIPA Powerbird Pro tool. The rivet’s design provides a wide range of installation benefits to save time and money, and deliver a safer, better quality overall result.

The performance of TUF-S for 8mm Cembrit panels was proven by SFS through a series of load tests conducted in its laboratory in Switzerland. This allowed for a set of technical values to be calculated to enable façade engineers to easily determine the number of fasteners and clips required to accommodate different locations, wind loadings, etc. This provided Cembrit with total assurance according to Ged Ferris, Cembrit UK Marketing Manager.

Ged says: “We are pleased that SFS have developed an innovative mechanical secret fix system for use with the standard 8mm thick rainscreen cladding boards. Designed and tested by SFS for use with fibre cement cladding, the combination of SFS rear rivets and Cembrit boards creates an attractive façade, uninterrupted by visible fixings, that will appeal to rainscreen cladding specifiers throughout the British Isles.

SFS have proven the rivet’s effectiveness in the clearest terms through their extensive testing and this gives us complete confidence in recommending the fastener’s use in any Cembrit rainscreen applications in the UK.”

Installation of TUF-S requires just a standard hole, with no need for complex undercutting – this provides the installer with the flexibility to drill new holes on site if required to accommodate unforeseen issues. The rivet also eliminates the risk of overtorquing, which can damage the rainscreen panels, and it has high pull-out values with no unwinding and uninstallation possible via a hex head.

Andy Stolworthy, Director of Product & Market Development at SFS says: “We’re delighted to have worked closely with Cembrit to provide them with a highly effective secret fix solution that will work across their different rainscreen panels. This development project is an excellent example of how SFS is able to create products with innovative unique features that provide OEMs with the assurances they need and address the most common issues faced by installers.”

Find out more about TUF-S at

International hotelier Park Regis have opened their first European hotel in Britain’s second city Birmingham. Towering over the skyline at 16 storeys the £50 million pound hotel offers 254 rooms, a gym, various bars, business and conference centres and a 2 storey glazed terrace sky bar delivering high end dining to Birmingham.


Comar Architectural Aluminium Systems were selected to provide the façade with curtain walling, windows and entrances. The key element of design for the Rofuto Sky Bar was to allow diners to enjoy clear uninterrupted views across the city, a double height Comar 6EFT Curtain wall was selected as it offers strength with a sleek 50mm sight-line. This ground breaking system, leads the way by offering a 50mm stick system with the capability to span further as the mullions and transoms have the highest Ix and Iy values on the market today. The design is also in keeping with the hotels minimalist Japanese Interior which echoes the “Byoba” art of Japanese screens. The curtain wall grid was off-set with symmetrically staggered mullions and transoms which create the typical lattice effect found in Japanese interiors.

The profiles where finished in RAL 7016 Matt Grey which seamlessly blends into the mahogany, cream and gold interior. All structural calculations were carried out by Comar’s Special Projects Team who ensured all Comar bracketry and fixings will withstand any sway, dead or live loads.

The cladding to the façade below the Rofuto Sky Bar was a palette of Ruukki panels, polished stone rain screen, and Kingspan Benchmark, A. Comar’s interface range of adaptors allowed the Comar 5Pi Advanced Windows to seamlessly integrate with the differing cladding elements. The design detailing of all these elements ensured that the façade had no thermal bridging and will maintain it’s air and water-tight solution.

Moving to the base of the building, Comar 6EFT capped curtain walling was used. Comar 6EFT interfaces with the dramatic angled cantilevered entrances. For this element of the face design the detailing and installation had to be precise to ensure that drainage and seals create a future-proof water tight solution.

Integrated into the curtain wall the entrances have to provide both a statement of welcome and ensure uninterrupted access. Often the first experience of a hotel is the entrance, which needs to provide form as well as function. The Comar 7P.i Commercial Door system is one of the most comprehensive on the market today. Sections are robust and offer an ideal solution for high traffic entrances. The doors selected were auto sliding which allow uninterrupted passage into the double storey entrance lobby.

APiC, a Comar Approved Fabricator were involved throughout the specification stage with both Comar and the Architect. APiC also worked closely with the Contractor to ensure that the project programme was met to ensure the time critical opening of March 2016 was achieved. Steve Tycer Managing Director of APiC UK, said. “We enjoy working with Comar as I know we can reassure our clients that site deadlines will be met. Comar’s Market Leading delivery is a key factor when we are up against a tight programme.“

Developer: Colmore Tang Construction
Architect: BDG (Building Design Group) Tamworth
Project Value: £50million

Comar: Designed for Performance, Backed by Delivery

For further information about Comar Architectural Aluminium Systems, please visit call 020 8685 9685 or email

Architectural practice Alexander Sedgley has specified a pioneering vertical fibre cement slate facade system for a luxury private mews development in London.

The Vertigo slates, from manufacturer Marley Eternit, have been used to create striking projecting bays on the front and rear of the exclusive terraced and semi detached rental properties at William Mews, near Brockley.

Built by Proctor Developments, the distinctive eco-friendly homes use timber frame construction, so the architects needed to specify a lightweight cladding material. They also wanted the bays to create a strong contrast against the yellow-flecked London stock brick required by planning. Although zinc or render were initially considered, Alexander Sedgley architects selected the new Vertigo system for its aesthetic and lightweight properties.

Project architect Stephen Alexander explains: “As we were using a timber frame, getting a lightweight material to clad the projecting structures was very important and when we saw the Vertigo system, we knew it was perfect for this development.

“The site is surrounded by two-storey Victorian houses and we wanted to create a contemporary contrast, without it being too imposing. As well as meeting our weight criteria, the Vertigo system gives a clean, contemporary slate aesthetic that will stand the test of time, but crucially remains sympathetic to the surroundings.

“It was very easy to detail and the other big advantage was that the roofing contractor was able to install it, so we didn’t need a specialist fitter. It was also much more economical than using sheet metal and removed the aesthetic problem of visible seams.”

The first of its kind in the UK, Vertigo consists of small 600mm x 300mm slate like panels which can be quickly fixed onto battens, with the desired amount of insulation in between. The fibre cement slates perfectly adapt to the contours of the building, providing a second protective skin. The Vertigo slate range is very easy to fit and has three different installation methods to give more design flexibility and freedom.

Charlotte Hughes, product manager from Marley Eternit, adds: “Vertigo is still a relatively new product in the UK market but is already proving popular in the luxury private residential sector, particularly with developers and architects who want to create striking properties in urban environments. As a lightweight material, it is ideal for adding aesthetic interest to timber frame buildings like this one at William Mews. In fact, using Vertigo with a block and timber frame can be 15% lighter than a traditional brick and block system.”

Available in eight different colours from Anthracite to Terracotta, Vertigo slates can be used to create beautiful, distinctive and elegant vertical cladding solutions for a full range of building types. Perfect continuity between the roof and facade can be achieved by using Vertigo in combination with Marley Eternit’s Birkdale or Rivendale fibre cement roof slates.

Vertigo also boasts superb sustainability credentials, helping to achieve environmental credits with a ‘very good’ BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing accreditation and its environmental impact is easily reviewed with its own Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). Fibre cement also offers sustainability benefits throughout its whole life cycle, as it can be fully recycled at the end of its use. Waste fibre cement can be ground down and used to replace limestone and shale in clinker production, the essential ingredients for Portland cement.

For more information or design advice, please visit or call Marley Eternit on 01283 722588.

Powdertech (Corby) Ltd is pleased to be sponsoring the Society of Facade Engineering Competition 2016. The competition invites designers, architects and engineers to submit imaginative and innovative building facades. These will be judged by some of the world’s leading exponents of facade engineering.

“As a niche supplier of specialist metal finishing to the architectural sector we are highly appreciative of the technical competence and design skills displayed in facade form and function,” said Richard Besant, Sales and Marketing Director, Powdertech (Corby) Ltd. “We have seen excellence and creativity in facade design grow year upon year, and supporting the Society of Facade Engineers is a natural fit with our business. We look forward to seeing the final winning entries.”

The winners will be announced at the SFE’s Glass Supper held on December 1st in the splendid Gibson Hall in the City of London.

For more information please visit

Another successful collaboration between aluminium building systems supplier, Hueck UK, and façade contractor McMullen Facades Ltd, a Lakesmere Group company, has recently seen the completion of one of south west London’s new landmark buildings, The Pinnacle.

Rising 170 feet high, the tower construction delivers 88 new luxury apartments, including a number of penthouses, with impressive views of the City. Developed by St. George PLC, this 15-storey building is the flagship high-rise within its award-winning riverside project, Battersea Reach.

The Pinnacle’s fully glazed curved façade has been manufactured using the high performance Trigon L aluminium system from Hueck. Highly versatile, this unitised façade system lends itself to a wide variety of curtain walling designs.

“We are using Hueck systems extensively across many of our current projects, and have successfully collaborated with Hueck UK on a series of iconic buildings over the past few years,” said Derek Price, operations director at McMullen Facades Ltd.

“The Pinnacle has a complex design, with no flat elevations, and we were looking for a range of high performance systems, not just curtain walling, but also window and door systems, to meet a series of demanding requirements. Hueck’s portfolio is very broad, allowing for great flexibility, and enabling us to deliver a complex design while ensuring the correct building tolerances were achieved.

“We worked closely with the architect, façade consultants, and our supplier – Hueck UK, through the design stage, ensuring a smooth delivery of the project, on time and on budget,” added Derek.

Approximately 1,300 unitised panels shape The Pinnacle’s striking curved envelope. Aside from Trigon L, the building also boasts nearly 180 Lambda 65 windows and doors. Featuring low thresholds, the doors comply with the Life Time Homes standards, and achieve an impressive 600Pa air permeability/water tightness.

Hueck’s popular Volato M lift/slide doors have also been specified for apartments and penthouses opening into private balconies or terraces.

Leon Friend, Project Development Director at Hueck, commented: “The Hueck Trigon L unitised façade system, combined with McMullen Facades’ engineering expertise, delivers The Pinnacle’s wavy appearance, a tribute to the river Thames, which it overlooks. Aside from looking the part, our systems have had a substantial contribution to meeting stringent energy performance requirements and practicality needs.”

For more information visit or call 0044 121 7671344.

Powdertech (Corby) Ltd has demonstrated its expertise in metal finishing on both steel and aluminium in the exciting Dickens Yard development, Ealing, West London. As specialists in architectural metal finishing, Powdertech coated all of the steel balconies and balustrade on the site, and many sections of aluminium facade.

Dickens Yard has been developed on the site of a former council car park in the centre of Ealing. It is termed a ‘high density, mixed use’ development, with shops, cafes, restaurants, health and leisure facilities at street level. Sitting directly above these are over six hundred residential apartments with landscaped courtyards, terraces and balconies.

Powdertech powder coated over 70 galvanised steel balcony bases and 500 metres of aluminium glass channel in Axalta RAL7039 matt grey polyester powder, providing corrosion protection and colour for twenty five years. “The large balcony bases up to 6m by 1.5m, and weighing in excess of 800kg took some handling,” said Richard Besant, Powdertech Sales Director, “Our plant has the capacity to accommodate the size, the weight and the quantity of these units.” In addition, posts for over 500 metres steel balustrade were coated in Valspar RAL7012 matt grey.

Ealing is identified as one of London’s major metropolitan centres in the London Plan and Dickens Yard reflects that vision. “This is a prestigious development with a requirement to look smart over many years,” said Richard Besant. “The powder coated finish on the prominent metal work will help to achieve that with minimal maintenance.”

For more information please visit

The winners of FAÇADES2015 the second competition of the Society of Façade Engineering, have been announced with the quality of entries overall as well as the winners said by the judges to have ‘significantly advanced the discipline of façades engineering and design.’

With the Awards presented during the recent ‘Glass Supper’, the prestigious International gathering of façades-focused architects and engineers, RIBA President Jane Duncan, presented prizes for three categories. Winner of the Façade of the Year 2015-New Build category was Flynn Group for the Ryerson Student Learning Centre in Toronto; Façade of the Year 2015–Refurbishment was awarded to Arup Façade Engineering for the Guys Hospital Tower; and Outstanding Façade Innovation 2015 was awarded jointly to Arup and Bellapart for the Bombay Sapphire Distillery.

Announcing the winners, Chris Macey FSFE, Chairman of Wintech Group and Chairman of the Judges, commented: “Based upon the simple premise of the competition ‘to recognise excellence in façade design and engineering as a specialist discipline’ then this year the competition has at least fulfilled those objectives with exciting entries from around the world being received. The judges believe that the winners have significantly raised the bar in terms of imagination, execution and vision with some exciting projects that are World Class by any standards.”

Commenting on each of the projects Macey added:

Ryerson Student Learning Centre in Toronto – the overall winner: The Ryerson Centre employed a number of unique and new technologies in the completion of a complex geometry building envelope and its application to complex structures. Essentially, laser scans of the structure were taken and these were combined with a BIM model that finally allowed the automation of all of the other design information needed for manufacture. The photographs of the building envelope are a clear demonstration of how technology in the future might simplify the whole delivery process of major buildings eradicating the risk of out of tolerance structure. The other overriding benefit is that the normal consideration of building tolerances in the design of building envelopes can now change, whereby the façade design can be adjusted automatically to accommodate as built structure just a few days before the components are required on site. The Ryerson Centre is a true example of a building completed using entirely new technologies.

Guys Hospital Tower: The original hospital tower building has been transformed from a derided, tired old building into an architectural triumph on the City of London skyline. Not only has a vast improvement been made to the building’s architecture and the environment of its occupants, but also the work was completed whilst the hospital was completed operational. The building uses a number of cladding techniques but all of these were constrained to some extent by the need to maintain certain aspects of the original façade design whilst accommodating inherent inefficiencies of these forms of construction. The project was widely regarded by the judges as being a superb example of what can be achieved with existing buildings. This is exemplary of a world class refurbishment project.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery: This project was put forward by two separate competition entries. As the judges were unable to differentiate between the two a joint award was made. The project is a unique example of how engineering ingenuity when combined with excellence in manufacture and delivery can be combined to create something that is totally unique. It is also testimony to the determination of the construction team and the client’s dedication in delivering a spectacular architectural masterpiece. Hopefully the distillery building will become a point of reference demonstrating what is achievable with the right team and modern technologies for future buildings.

Summarising the importance of the competition Chris Macey said: “With the façade being one of the most expensive parts of a building construction and the primary environmental modifier it is only right that the scientific and engineering expertise needed to deliver this fundamentally important element of the construction of modern buildings is properly appreciated.

“The SFE competition provides the only real opportunity for those behind great examples of façades excellence to gain proper recognition by their peers and in the wider architectural community.”

For the headline sponsors of the competition Reynaers Aluminium, the company’s managing director Martine Reynaers commented: “I have been very impressed to see that these awards have generated such diverse entries relating to projects all around the world. The standard of the winning entries has been exceptional, showcasing some architecturally very exciting projects. I am delighted that Reynaers has been involved as main sponsor.”

For more information please visit

Shackerley has supplied over 900m2 of SureClad® ceramic granite ventilated façade cladding in different styles for Consett Academy and Consett Leisure Centre, adding premium quality external finishes for both parts of this £44 million regeneration project in the North East.

From the outset, the new academy and leisure centre were to be constructed as a single building with many shared facilities, but each part of the development was to have its own clear identity and sense of purpose. The specification of ceramic granite façade panels in different colourways and surface textures has helped to achieve this.

Seymour Harris, architects for the main contractor Carillion, had previous experience of using SureClad® in the education sector and had no hesitation in specifying Shackerley’s patented façade system when developing the detailed design for this scheme.

Multi-format polished and unpolished black façade panels from one of Shackerley’s most popular ceramic granite ranges have been installed ‘broken bonded’ to form a key design element of the main frontage of the Academy.

“Using premium black materials normally associated with the high end commercial sector underlines the message that the Academy is a place of work and that learning leads towards a bigger world,“ commented Seymour Harris Director, Tim Johnson. “The Academy also has a technology specialism and the use of an advanced technical cladding system seems appropriate as it serves to emphasise the focus of the school.”

The adjoining Leisure Centre has been clad with SureClad® ceramic granite façades in a lighter stone colourway, contrasting starkly with black detailing at the main entrance. “The cladding material has given the Leisure Centre the civic quality required, and maintained design continuity with the Academy, whilst the less imposing, brighter colour has given the facility its own fresh identity,” said Tim.

“The SureClad® system gave us the design flexibility we needed,” he added,” It allowed us to manipulate the coursing on the façade to employ both matt and polished layers of different heights and to interface effectively with entrance features and glazing elements. The ease of forming the junctions with other materials was an added bonus.”

He concluded: “The SureClad® ceramic granite just gave us everything we were looking for… excellent clean lines, stunning appearance of quality, robustness with long term low maintenance. The choice available also meant that we were able to reflect very effectively the natural local materials of stone buildings, slate roofs, and strata and outcrops of the surrounding landscape in our designs, whilst maintaining the civic quality demanded and continuity of detailing”.

For further details please contact Shackerley on 0800 783 0391 or visit

Shackerley has demonstrated the extraordinary design potential and versatility of its Sureclad® ventilated cladding systems by supplying innovative engineered stone façades for a challenging installation at Kew Bridge West, an exclusive development of 336 luxury apartments in North London.

2400m² of fully prefabricated Sureclad® engineered stone cladding in a natural limestone colourway and honed finish has provided a premium quality aesthetic for the lower storeys of the nine apartment buildings in this stunning complex, designed by Stockwool and developed by St James, part of the Berkeley Group.

Two circular towers called for smooth rounded façades and Shackerley’s Sureclad® Hang On system had to be customised to cater for large format curved panels, cut to a radius from solid blocks of engineered stone. Additional challenges included the design of elegantly faceted façades to clad curved elevations of adjacent buildings, designed to reflect the development’s ‘horseshoe’ design.

Shackerley and specialist façade installation contractor Stanmore worked very closely together, developing bespoke solutions at every stage, from the design of the Sureclad® façades to the palletisation of the prefabricated system. Stanmore’s installers also visited Shackerley to receive expert training in the use of the Sureclad® system.

As this was the first time that curved engineered stone panels had been used in conjunction with Sureclad®, the companies arranged for the bespoke facade system to be tested to NHBC criteria at VINCI Technology Centre UK.

Stanmore Commercial Director Peter Baker said: “We were responsible for delivering all the external façades, curtain walling, doors, windows and other external finishes on this project but the engineered stone cladding was by far the most highly valued element of the job. Close collaboration with our supplier was absolutely crucial. By planning and modelling the installation in detail and working hand in hand with Shackerley’s technical team, we achieved superb results for our client. The overall experience was very positive and we’re looking forward to working on other Sureclad® projects in the future.”

Construction Director at St James, Brian Paterson, commented: “It was only when we came to value engineer the Kew Bridge West project that Shackerley’s system was brought to our attention. As a result of switching the engineered stone specification to Sureclad®, we’ve undoubtedly benefitted from a more flexible and lighter façade solution than originally planned and from very substantial cost savings, whilst still achieving our architects’ original design intention. We’re delighted with the results”

For further details on the Sureclad® system please contact Shackerley on 0800 783 0391 or visit

Technical Editor, Bruce Meechan hears from Ged Ferris of Cembrit about the wide selection of board products the manufacturer can offer for internal and external construction applications.

The term one-stop-shop may be over used in the UK building products supply chain, but the range of boards offered by long-established manufacturer, Cembrit can provide specifiers with solutions to every sort of challenge from interior refurbishment and the creation of wet rooms within social housing units, to some of the most daunting logistical demands faced by burgeoning offsite or MMC sector.

The majority of the board options offer not just excellent physical characteristics, but a strong lineage and a long track record of service, both here and on the Continent.
As UK Marketing Manager, Ged Ferris, commented during our interview: “We have the product range to facilitate the needs of everyone from offsite system fabricators to refurbishment specialists and the growing self-build market.

Not just a Five-star range, but a range with five main stars and many product variations: Cembrit’s flat boards encompass all the key performance parameters including moisture resistance, fire resistance and structural strength, as well as providing a versatile substrate for commonly used finishes.

THE RANGE General purpose and specialist requirements solved by Cembrit’s boards

The product within the range which has shown the most rapid growth across the market is PB: a versatile tile backer or render backer board, mainly being used for the refurbishment of bathrooms, it is popular due to its low weight and ease of cutting which facilitates installation, and the robust long term performance. Cembrit has developed a version called Flex which can be fixed down to radii of just 150 mm. Both conventional PB and Flex features polystyrene spherules and an edge reinforcement detail that uses a special fabric allowing butt jointing and fixings close to edges for maximum rigidity. Flex installations might then form a column casing that would be rendered over or covered with a small format mosaic.

Where social housing providers are seeking to fit out full wet rooms for those who might need assistance with personal care, then there is also a Special Performance board which was originally developed for use in places like swimming pools.

The biggest seller still, though in terms of volume is Cempanel which is primarily specified for dry-lining and sheathing: the internal skin to a rainscreen cladding build up. Depending on dimensions, Cempanel can also take racking loads: being produced in thicknesses of 8, 10, 12 and 16 mm. It is also often used as a render carrier in exterior applications.

The FR board can provide up to 120 minutes of fire resistance and is widely specified for soffits in corridors, lift lobbies and other communal areas to buildings where the consideration of escape routes and combating the surface spread of flame are essential.

Ged Ferris added: “We see our board range as being of particular value to manufacturers of modules, pods, timber frame panel systems and other prefabricated solutions. They could even form the face to SIPs (Structural Insulated Panel) systems.

“As well as the merchant stockist, clients can also purchase through ‘optimizers’ – board cutting specialists who supply the exact sizes they need to make our standard product coordinate with elevation widths, window openings and things like flues or other service penetrations. It will also be a real advantage to customers that such a comprehensive selection is available from a single source.”

Responding to market demand, Cembrit is also making its cladding boards available as BIM objects in partnership with its Scandinavian parent company. These can be viewed via the company’s website at or by contacting the company’s technical advisory service via email.