Above: Made by 3A Composites USA, Alucobond—in both metallic and relective finishes—clads the tasting room of a winery in British Columbia.
Reflecting its beautiful surroundings, Alucobond-clad facility celebrates taste
May 2014 - Although the initial product was developed in the 1960s, architects have come up with ever-more unique designs and applications for Alucobond. One example is the recently completed wine tasting facility at Painted Rock Estate Winery, named British Columbia’s Winery of the Year at the 2013 InterVin International Wine Awards, and winner of gold medals for its 2010 Cabernet and 2010 Syrah.
Winery owner John Skinner wanted to burnish the brand further by erecting a 1,600-square-foot tasting room on an 60-acre estate overlooking Skaha Lake in Penticton, British Columbia. It opened September 2013. As the facility overlooks the vineyards, lake and views of nearby mountains, it also provides a destination site for weddings, banquets and corporate parties.
“We wanted to build something worthy of the site. We chose a contemporary building design–but one that seems in place,” Skinner says.
The winery chose Fallowfield Design + Development in Kaleden, British Columbia, which elected to wrap parts of the modern structure in both purely reflective and softly tinted Alucobond.
“Alucobond is the only product that would give us the tolerances we needed on the curves. Any intolerance in the material sticks out like a sore thumb,” Fallowfield architectural designer Dominic Unsworth says. “On that scale, we want to deal with it as a unified form rather than make do with another material. The other appeal is the range of colors deals really nicely with natural lighting conditions. The natural environment plays with the surfaces, whether metallic finishes or reflective, and (the metallic surface) goes from blues to greens to earthy tones.”
The customer, Unsworth says, is thrilled with the result. “The structure had to be on brand: striking, complementing the surroundings and delivering a modern message.”
About 2,400 square feet of surface is clad in Alucobond. which consists of two sheets of 0.02-inch-thick aluminum thermobonded to each side of a polyethylene core. Alucobond provides flatness and rigidity, is readily formable, lightweight and weather resistant, according to the manufacturer.
Ben Branham, architectural marketing manager for 3A Composites USA, which forms Alucobond at a plant in Benton, Ky., says one side of the panel is painted and finished while the other side is painted purely for the material’s protection.
“The sheet is rolled out, then sandwiched onto a plastic core. Once the plastic is hot formed, then cooled, it is a rigid, durable material, more so than just a piece of metal. It’s also a lot lighter than steel and lasts a lot longer,” says Branham.
3A Composites sends standard-size Alucobond sheets to a fabricator that then uses the architect’s drawings and CAD files to create the building panels and build the custom frames for them.
“Alucobond has been around since the late 1960s and took off in the early 1970s in North America,” says Branham. “The biggest project is Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center at Disney World. The whole skin is Alucobond. It has been used in large and small projects ever since.”
The manufacturing technology for Alucobond has improved; the finishes have improved; the system designed to hold the panels in place has improved. “We also do newer testing on the panels, to meet local building codes,” Branham says.
Installed at Painted Rock, “The bluish (Seafoam Metallic) material features a luster that seems to change as the natural light changes,” says Skinner. “From bright sunny days to dark hazy days, the building’s appearance evolves profoundly. One day, it’s one building; the next day, it’s another.”
The building wings are tipped with a mirrored surface “that reflects the moonrise in the east and the sunset in the west,” says Unsworth. “Fantastic views of the lake as well as the hills and mountains are visible in this cladding.”
Keith Panel Systems, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, fabricated the Alucobond for the winery project.
“Because the aluminum is polished to a mirror finish, any surface imperfection becomes readily apparent. This was our first job with the Alucobond Reflect product, and we were aware that this element would become the focal point of the building,” says operations manager Paul Dalzell. “The panel geometry was complex, but we found that the Reflect material was very easy to work with. The installed panels remained flat and distortion free, something that is usually extremely hard to accomplish with mirror-finished materials.”
KPS started with 4-foot by 12-foot sheets, which it cut to size and fabricated into panels using its System A Pressure Equalized Rainscreen panel system. “We provided engineering, shop drawings, panel fabrication and delivery to the job site,” says Dalzell. “Laing Roofing did a phenomenal job with the field measure and installation.”
Devoid of defects inherent in other flat panels makes Alucobond easy to work with. “There is absolutely no oil canning. Oil canning is an undulating surface commonly seen when using single-skin metals as the face sheet in a modular panel system. Alucobond remains extremely flat.”
Before the use of Reflect, a mirror finish could only be achieved with stainless steel, “which struggles to be flat without going to a thick panel, and that becomes expensive and hard to handle,” says Dalzell. Alucobond “is just as reflective as polished stainless steel.”
With stainless, he continues, “the amount of work you have to do is incredible, and it’s just not that accessible due to the cost. This (Alucobond) brings it down to the level of a typical ACM panel system and the response from the architectural community has been very positive.
“We would work with this product again,” adds Dalzell. “The result was stunning.”
The installer agrees. “We like the product. It’s nice to work with––a fairly easy system versus bolt-on, where you have to cut the sheets,” says Darran Light, owner/vice president of Laing Roofing, Kelowna, British Columbia.
Laing Roofing’s first task was to secure accurate measurements. “When the design comes out, we price accordingly, then our guys go to the site and measure everything before ordering the panels. We are careful about measuring each section so you don’t end up with panels that don’t fit. The design is laid out by the architect and we mimic that as closely as possible from drawings to on site.”
It took about six weeks to install.
Guests of the wine tasting facility can enjoy the region’s views in the cladding as they walk to and from the tasting room and while sitting out on the open patio areas or strolling across the landscaped lawn.
Dalzell says the Alucobond naturAL Reflect material will prove valuable in future KPS projects. “The Reflect material will have a big impact–especially in our niche markets–because it offers the versatility and economy of Alucobond with a mirrored finish.”
As for the client, “in our context, the material really works. It brings the glorious natural periphery––including the lake and the mountains––into the building,” says Skinner. “We’ve seen the immediate appeal that it has with people journeying to the grounds. It’s wonderfully appropriate for this site.” MM