Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today

Staticus Forum 2018 reveals the future of facades lies in working together now to embrace technology and innovative design.

The future of the facades industry will be shaped by digitalisation, creativity and technology according to an international conference staged by Staticus at its headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The ‘Staticus Forum 2018’ was aptly entitled ‘Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today’ and introduced delegates to tomorrow’s facades from the point of view of some of the industry’s leading professionals.

It’s not the first time Staticus has brought industry experts together to share the key issues in the sector - last year the company also held a successful open house for clients and partners. However, this conference was very much focused on the future and what could be achieved by working together.

In fact, the theme of collaboration ran through every presentation – and is a topic close to Staticus’ heart.

It underlined the importance of having a strong collaborative network of companies and institutions, both inside and outside the industry, with a goal of developing and delivering the most sustainable and beautiful building solutions to the world.

Achieving that requires design flair, creativity and a willingness to push the boundaries of design to bring new solutions to the market.

The forum focussed on the importance of technology in bringing those designs to life and creating the kind of sustainable and connected buildings that a modern age demands.

Some of the key issues shared included:

Digitalisation and AI: Ieva Martinkenaitė (Vice President/ Telenor Group)

This opening thought-provoking talk introduced AI (artificial intelligence). Ieva made emphasis on where AI technology as a whole is heading and the importance of recognizing the value of data and identifying which data is unique (strategic) to our industry and to figure out how to collect and use such data.

One of the main messages, in keeping with the theme of the conference, was that one cannot embrace this technology alone – the real benefit can only be gained by working with partners in local, regional or global industry ecosystems. Ieva’s message was “think one (community) – not many” and that was a powerful point to make. She pointed out too that competition in AI is global, not local. She provided examples of AI business uptake from Singapore and Canada where collaboration works well and emphasised that AI will not negate the need for creativity, empathy and other emotional skills in the job market.

When you consider that 37 billion new things (the so called, Internet of Things, IoT) will be connected to the internet by 2020, there’s a big challenge ahead for the construction and facade industry to harness this new IoT technology and build AI applications on top of newly emerging sensor data.

In fact, Staticus launched its own digital lab last summer focusing on process, so the importance of AI and machine learning is not new to us. The aim of the team is to create software that make process more efficient and it’s a part of the company that is likely to expand.

Digital disruption – Lards Anders (General Manager/ Priedemann Facade Experts

This talk expanded the theme of collaboration, emphasising that you cannot be a big player alone in the market anymore. In a digital world, it’s better to work with specialists rather than try and do everything yourself. The industry still needs talented design engineers and some solutions will always be human-led, although those that do not embrace the changes will be left behind.

Creative solutions in facades, Lina Lahiri (Senior Architect/ Sauerbruch Hutton)

The presentation brought creativity and design to the fore. It showed how you can work with the shape of a building and fulfil a client’s needs for the architecture to be special and, ultimately, help shape cities. Looking at previous projects, Lina took us on a tour of how to integrate building and facade designs to better manage and adapt to their environment. It also revealed the impact facades can have on the environmental footprint of a building - and the need to have long-term thinking when deciding on a facade solution.

Creative design and mastering the curve, Damian Rogan (Director of Facade Engineering/ Eckersley O’Callaghan)

Damian underlined the remarkable things that can be achieved with glass when design, technical know-how and collaboration come together to create inspiring structures by curving and manipulating glass panels currently reaching up to 18m x 3.6m in dimension while maintaining their structural and visual integrity.

Dynamic change, Bruce Nicol (Head of Global Design/ Merck Window Technologies)

This talk also brought the future of glass into focus and revealed some of the new technology in the industry, including Dynamic glass facades that can be adjusted and / or programmed to react in a variety of ways. It left everyone with a feeling that so much more is achievable in an exciting industry by working together to embrace change and utilise technology.

Certainly at Staticus we don’t stand still. The conference also celebrated news that Staticus has produced the first elements of Sauerbruch Hutton’s impressive Stockholm New Building – and gave delegates a chance to tour the company’s facilities where the facades were manufactured.

Perched on the edge of a rocky cliff overlooking one of Stockholm’s central districts, Stockholm New is designed to be an iconic site, particularly in the sunless winter days, with its 3D anodised and dyed extruded profiles with 10 different NCS coloured and enamelled glass.

The facade will be comprised of a total of 1,800 elements each measuring 2.4 x 3.6m enveloping the 15,000m2 exterior. The 102-meter-high, 28-floor building will have a “Step” facade with 30cm difference between each successive floor - meaning that the top floor will be 8m wider than the bottom. Installation in Stockholm New is set to be completed by the end of November 2019.

Staticus has also been selected to develop the facade solution for the VIA project in Oslo, Norway. Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, the VIA project will aim to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating by utilising a combination of closed cavity facades (CCF) and single skin elements that are going to be manufactured in Staticus’ newly refurbished production facility. VIA will host exclusive shops and high-end offices in the heart of Oslo, making it one of the most prestigious buildings in the city.

With a wide range of projects currently taking place in the UK, too, including X1 Media City, Manchester and the Royal Mint Gardens, London, it’s an exciting time for the business.

Staticus is already one of the largest facade contractors in Northern Europe and has worked on a range of high-profile buildings across Scandinavia, the Baltic countries and the UK.

Privately owned, and with more than 500 employees, Staticus has been in business for more than 20 years and is one of Lithuania’s most important exporters, thanks to a state of the art 14,000 sqm factory in Vilnius, which can operate between 10 and 12 production lines at any one time.

With offices in Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and now the UK, Staticus aims to develop unique building facades using the most advanced research and design methods – helping to develop smart buildings where people can live and work in harmony with the environment.

Next year the company is investigating the possibility of moving its annual forum to the UK. So, watch this space – the future of facades is an exciting one.

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