News | 10-04-2021

Aluminium Appications: Aluminium In Construction (Part 2)

We can thank Aluminium for the changing image of modern cities and towns: the clarity of lines, the feverish desire to grow skyward, the beauty, functionality and environmental compatibility of present-day megalopolises. The glass faces of office skyscrapers are supported by lightweight and sturdy Aluminium frames. Entertainment, trade and exhibition centres literally rest on Aluminium frameworks. Stadiums, pools and other sports facilities.

Imagine that you have a light, but strong metal, which is not prone to corrosion, which is non-toxic and durable, and which can be given virtually any desired shape. Aluminium is a tool for unlimited creativity in the hands of the architect, making it possible to create structures that cannot be made from wood, plastic, or steel.

That is why it is so commonly used in modern construction.

  1. History

At the beginning of the last century, Aluminium was virtually unused in civil engineering, as the metal was too expensive and not produced in sufficient volumes. Everything changed in the 1920s, when the electrolysis process reduced the cost of Aluminium by 80%. The metal became extremely popular for finishing roofs and domes and for use in drains and wall panels, as well as for decorative purposes.

The first building in which Aluminium was widely used in construction was the Empire State Building, the famous New York skyscraper built in 1931 – and the tallest building in the world until 1970. Aluminium was used in all of the building’s basic structures and widely used in the interior as well. One of the building’s calling cards is the fresco on the lobby ceiling and the walls are made of Aluminium and 23 karat gold.

Empire State Building, USA

The minimum design service life of Aluminium structures is 80 years. Within this timespan, Aluminium can be used in any climatic conditions and does not lose its properties in temperatures ranging between –80 °C and +300 °C. Aluminium structures can be slightly prone to damage in fires, but the metal becomes even stronger at low temperatures. That is why it is widely used in construction in cold areas, like the Northern Urals, Siberia and Yakutia in Russia.

Thanks to its low specific weight, Aluminium plate constitutes half the weight of steel with the same stiffness. So, the weight of Aluminium structures is one half to two-thirds the weight of steel structures and up to one-seventh the weight of reinforced concrete structures with the same bearing capacity. That is why Aluminium is today is used in high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. The light weight of Aluminium drawbridges makes their mechanical components lighter, minimizes counterbalances and in general gives more space for the architect to realise his or her creative vision. In addition, it is simpler, faster and more convenient to work with lightweight structures.

Aluminium takes to polishing and anodizing very well and can take on any colouring, a quality highly valued by designers. For example, the ceiling of the Aviamotornaya underground station in Moscow, the buildings of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the State Kremlin Palace feature anodic Aluminium raised plates. These elements look and sparkle like gold from afar. In using this metal, it is not necessary to waste this precious metal for gold anodizing, as the special pigment gives the colour and the oxide film gives the lustre.

  1. Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers are, no doubt, Aluminium’s business card in modern architecture. Their floor-to-floor glass walls or translucent panes represent a combination of glass and Aluminium frames. They are in universal use worldwide as they make it possible to create a building that is much more energy-efficient from an economic point of view and can significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

 Moscow-City, Moscow, Russia                                      The Co-operative Group, Manchester, United Kingdom

Coming back to the Empire State Building, the iron frames of all 6,514 windows were replaced with Aluminium frames in 1993 as part of the legendary skyscraper conversion program. The new windows make up 30% of the building surface, thus ensuring a 16% saving in energy consumed annually.

In 2012, Siemens opened the Crystal Centre for Sustainable Urban Development in London. The Centre’s building was designed with the application of Aluminium faces and the latest energy-saving construction techniques, and it became the only structure worldwide to receive both the top LEED and BREEAM ratings– the two most widespread systems for assessing buildings according to environmental impact. Crystal consumes 46% less electricity and generates 65% less carbon dioxide than any other office building comparable in size.

The Crystal, London, United Kingdom

According to forecasts, the planet’s population will be 10 billion people by 2050. Two-thirds of these people will live in cities, which means the environmental problem will become especially severe, including potential shortages of water, fertile soils and other resources. Considering that Aluminium structures are 100% recyclable with significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, it is the metal of the future.

  1. Pavilions

Light and at the same time strong, gridshell makes it possible to build not only large-area buildings, but also to give them unusual shapes.

The Ferrari World giant entertainment park in Abu Dhabi, opened in 2010, has the largest Aluminium roof in the world with an area of 200,000 square metres. The Aluminium used in the roof would be enough to make16,750 Ferraris.

Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The Sage Gateshead concert hall in Great Britain, designed by Norman Foster’s architectural studio, is shaped to resemble sound waves. The structure consists of Aluminium, glass and steel.

The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Quays, United Kingdom

The roof of the enormous Riverwalk atrium in the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Centre hotel complex, close to Dallas in the US, is made of a glazed Aluminium framework. The atrium area exceeds 16,000 square metres, and a microclimate is sustained within.

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine, Texas, USA

The famous Dzintari concert hall in Yurmala (Latvia) not only has an Aluminium roof, but a sliding roof; it is technically impossible to make such a structure from steel.

  1. Sports Facilities

Aluminium is widely used to build large-scale structures with non-standard shapes such as stadiums, covered pools and other sports facilities.

The roof of the aquatics centre built for the 2012 Olympic Games in London is covered with Aluminium in the shape of an enormous ocean wave. The roof is 160 metres long and weighs 3,000 tonnes. Two 50-metre pools are situated under it, one 25-metre diving pool and seats for 17,500 spectators.

London Aquatics Centre, London, United Kingdom

Aluminium was one of the key materials used to build Olympic facilities in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The total area of translucent panes of the Bolshoi and Iceberg ice rinks, the Laura biathlon stadium and Sanki bobsledding centre Sanki exceeded 16,000 square metres.

The Iceberg Skating Palace, Sochi, Russia

Without resting on the laurels of their success, specialists are investigating new possibilities for using Aluminium as the basic construction material. Scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technologies developed innovative Aluminium panels that can be used in building high-rise structures, ensuring greater energy and economic efficiency as compared to concrete and steel.

Source: Aluminium Leader