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Specified: Cladding - March/April 2014

1. Accoya, Accsys Technologies

Moving is such a pain isn’t it - you’ve barely got all those boxes emptied from last time before you find you must up sticks again and refill another round of crates. Why bother unpacking at all? Well, we do our best, but at The Academy of the Jewish Museum in Berlin they seem to be more realistic. Any lingering crates that never quite get emptied will look perfectly at home in the giant ‘motherbox’ that houses the library, archives and education centre. Looking for all the world like a thing abandoned, at least it’s made of durable Accoya timber, and not soggy cardboard.

2. Glass cladding, StoVentec

There are moments in Oscar Wilde’s prison lament, the Ballad of Reading Gaol, that could well have referred to the miserable daily commute: ‘... each day is like a year, A year whose days are long’. Now that’s all changing with a root and branch upgrade of Reading Station that includes a new bridge and entrances, extra and longer platforms and 21st century technology to improve passenger flow and information. And using  1200m2 of grey StoVentec obscure glass cladding, romantic notions of smoky Victorian locomotives linger in a modern, shiny smog-free format.

3. Sterling OSB, Norbord

Beware the next time you pop into a Blackfriars hostelry to launch the weekend wind-down. Come midnight, as you slur the ‘unavoidable delays’ explanation down the mobile to an increasingly angry other half, you might start seeing your world turn upside down – literally. But when you wake in a nearby doorway next morning all will become clear – the upside down house is a delightful artwork by Alex Chinneck, made with Norbord’s Sterling OSB cladding. Lovely to look at – but no help in the sudden unexpected search for somewhere else to live.

4. Aluminium glazing, Technal

In my day, the headmaster was almighty, and when he said: ‘Let there be light,’ we all dutifully dashed to the light switches. Now the perpetual search for better educational results is citing a link between learning outcomes and daylight, so Technal’s aluminium glazing systems have proven a godsend to Chiltern Trinity School in Bridgewater, Somerset. The firm’s Geode-MX Visible Grid curtain walling is liberally glazed, giving pupils no excuse for poor performance. It might even help keep the teachers sane too – is that a bench or a stretcher outside Class 4B?

5. Vivix panels, Formica

Over in Dublin, youthful home of course to the aforementioned Oscar, Formica has supplied Vivix panels in Redwood – a life-affirming colour if ever there was one – to St James’s Hospital haemophilia and hepatology clinical research  unit. No-one has suggested that the emotive shade was chosen with a nod to James’ status as the first apostle to be martyred (by sword), but in this land of passion and imagery it’s surely down not just to the material’s reputed performance and manageable maintenance costs. Come on guys, we want symbolism with our embolisms!

6. Rainscreen system, Sotech

There’s a certain drama in the purple and grey facade of Outwood Academy in Acklam, Middlesbrough, clad in Sotech’s Optima secret-fix, aluminium extruded IPC X plank rainscreen system. Such brooding promise befits a performing arts and sports specialist school – which will also no doubt be keenly aware of the shadow of famous football manager, socialist, cricket fan, drinker and self-promoter Brian Clough, who once lived in the area. Let’s just hope students at the school are careful which of Old Big ’Ead’s attributes they turn to for inspiration...

7. Equitone, Marley Eternit

St Alban’s Academy, in a deprived inner city area of Birmingham, is a school of a different stripe and clearly keen to be noticed. And with good reason: in its five years of existence the maths and engineering  specialist school has achieved Ofsted Outstanding status and got itself this debonair new building. Marley Eternit’s Equitone architectural fibre cement cladding in natura and textura was specified in grey and warm colours,  reflecting the city’s red brick and industrial characteristics. Next time they need a new school, perhaps a former pupil will design it. 

8. Glass balconies, Q-Railing

Daffodils are budding, lambs gambolling, the days are getting longer and beckoning us from winter hibernation to wander lonely as a cloud on hill and dale. Yet the Lake District, apogee of the outdoor pursuit, seems to be backtracking. Q-Railing’s glass balconies contribute to the luxury evident at the Brimstone Hotel below Langdale Pikes, where visitors will surely now be tempted instead to lounge around on the verandahs with pink gins and pistachios, exercising no more than their long distance vision on the area’s distant peaks.


The enormous logistical underworld that brings our goods is drab and invisible. Could architects deliver warehouses we can be proud of?

Could architects deliver warehouses we can be proud of?

Jordan Whitewood-Neal, commended in RIBAJ/Future Architects writing competition, considers whether the AA can reconcile its progressive agenda with its inaccessible building to make disabled inclusion central to architectural education

AA’s progressive teaching conflicts with its inaccessible premises

Zero carbon targets are achievable without making housing all look the same. It’s the unseen fundamentals that need to repeat, as the car industry keeps showing us

Quick construction + personal choice = mass customisation

Danish photographer Hjortshøj continues his exploration of the co-dependencies of natural and urban landscapes in his 2018 photograph of Fondazione Prada in Milan

Rasmus Hjortshøj, Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2018

Visiting is coming back on the agenda, so the right doors, windows and the ironmongery to operate them are more critical than ever. There’s lots of choice on PiP’s specified pages

Doors and windows to serve every post-lockdown need