Why consider insulated render?

Endless colours, clean, modern lines and green credentials – what more could you want for a 21st-century facade? James Ormerod, Managing Director of architectural finishes firm Aliva UK, explains why insulated render is well worth considering.



he stunning simplicity and white curves of the £15m headquarters of Wrexham-based telephone answering firm Moneypenny have quickly made it a modern design classic in office buildings – and deservedly award-winning. Not only is the interior fit-out an exemplar for all UK companies, but the insulated render exterior also gives it green credentials to match.

The clean, crisp facade wraps in unbroken lines around the exterior of the building, providing a faultless finish thanks to 5000m² of insulated render. It will withstand the worst of the Welsh weather – imperative in the building’s semi-rural location. Quality insulated render like this has excellent thermal insulation credentials, plus self-cleaning and anti-algae staining properties that will ensure Moneypenny maintains its pristine finish for years to come.

Top marks for schools

Insulated render is also known as a cladding material for major refurbishment projects, particularly social housing. It is cost-conscious, straightforward to apply (with expert supervision) and keeps its clean good looks for years. It can also be combined with brick slips to enable restored buildings to stay true to their surroundings. But given its versatility – and thanks to a huge palette of colours – it can provide quality, individual looks for buildings across many sectors including retail, residential, hospitality, leisure and education.

Another advantage of insulated render is that it can be installed quickly over large areas. This made it an ideal material when Telford’s Building Schools for the Future project needed to clad seven schools in an eco-friendly fashion. The bespoke insulated render finishes allowed the contractor to keep to a tight schedule of delivery deadlines.

Bright, modern finish

In Salford, Greater Manchester, a cost-effective, high-quality insulated render facade transformed a 1960s tower block that was being upgraded and modernised inside and out to meet current Building and Thermal Value Regulations. Wade House is part of the Barton Village project in Eccles, Salford, where major regeneration work is currently underway.

The architect chose insulated render in bespoke salmon pink plus blue smooth traditional brick slips and lightweight stock-effect brick slips to over-clad the 10-storey block. The architect needed a lightweight solution to create a first-class aesthetic and thermal fabric for the building. The brick slips were chosen to complement the existing brick structure and surrounding buildings. The result was a bright, modern finish that transformed the look of an ageing building into an exemplar for 21st-century high-rise living.

For three 12-storey high rise blocks of flats in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester – an area that has undergone major regeneration in recent years – the contractors needed an external wall system that could be used without height restriction. The insulated render allowed for the use of a textured finish in white and blue-grey that transformed the tired exterior while meeting the need for both thermal and external upgrades. A blue brick slip over a mineral wool insulation complemented the traditionally-laid brickwork to the apartment blocks.

The merits of insulated render for refurbishment are not confined to social housing either.

Future-proofed buildings

In Weston-super-Mare, the clean, crisp facade for Weston College is in white insulated render and ceramic tile – featuring an innovative water jet-cut logo design. The project began when North Somerset Council approached Weston College with a proposal to transfer the building to the college’s ownership – restoring the 1920s part of the building and redeveloping the little-used 1980s conference facilities into a stunning educational centre.

Part of the brief was to design and install a facade for the entrance to a two-storey new build and replace an ugly 1980s concrete entrance. The aim was to reflect the site’s classic Art Deco beginnings while looking to the future. Insulated render fitted the bill again, as the brief was to create an energy-conscious building that was future-proofed for generations of students to come. It was specified in white to tie the new extension in with the rest of the building’s aesthetics.

To achieve an Art Deco look, cut stone was the first choice for the building’s logo; however, the volume of stone would have been too heavy. Ceramic tile rainscreen cladding was specified instead – a lighter product made entirely from natural materials to support the building’s eco-conscious design. The tile was cut with the logo ‘Winter Gardens’, linking the new entrance to the identity of the building.

Given that more than a third of the heat in a building is lost through its walls, high-quality insulated render that delivers a stylish, contemporary finish is a must for any energy-conscious building project. These contrasting buildings show that there is no limit to an architect’s dreams when it comes to using this versatile finish.

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