Husseiin Z. Chiniwala, a specialized Aluminium façade contractor and one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of architectural aluminium systems.
Where do you see ACP 5 years down the line?
Applications of ACP have widened a lot, and have extended beyond façade applications.
Husseiin Z. Chiniwala, Director of Alfa Façade Systems Pvt. Ltd.
Architects are looking to innovate more and more with this product. Different innovative applications, like bullnose etc. have come into the picture. New finishes on ACP are coming up every moment, widening the scope of its application. Interior applications of ACP, bringing about a whiff of freshness are increasing by the day. And in future, I see this trend to grow further as the designers would look to explore more, and ACP manufacturers would have to come up with more innovative finishes to satiate their demand.
The wrong method of fabrication is still a big cause of concern. How can this problem be weeded out?
The beauty of a product can get enhanced only with the correct fabrication method. Many buildings clad with ACP are spoilt owing to the wrong method of fabrication. So, I think a lot of awareness has to be created on the correct fabrication methods, and the situation is improving slowly. ACP companies are putting in a lot of effort into educating the fabricators. You know that India is a price conservative market, so everyone tries to cut corners somewhere or the other. Also, there are a lot of new contractors or companies coming up every now and then, most of which are not conversant with correct installation methods. The image of the product goes down due to this.
Especially in the widespread scenario of façade consultants not being involved in projects, don’t you think even designers should be aware of the right method of fabrication as well so that their concepts get executed properly?
Definitely. In fact, the subject of façade is being given a lot of importance today by architects. I have been talking to a few architects who say that this is now being dealt with in a much more serious way in their studies as well. Young architects are now more eager to understand better the many technical implications of building a façade, the different methods of application like rain screen principle etc. This will help a lot in reducing the gap between what a designer conceptualizes, and what actually gets executed.
Talking about the right method of ACP fabrication, there are so many shopping malls, including those of big brands, in which the correct method of fabrication is not used, like under the escalators. They are actually screwed directly onto the surface. Could you shed some light on why that shouldn’t be done?
Yes, there’s a lot of vibration of the entire machine. So when we screw the ACP onto the subframe, after a certain period of time it’s going to actually give way somewhere or the other. What you need to actually take into account is how these vibrations, and how the movement of the escalator are going to impact the ACP cladding. The vibrations should be taken care of from inside and it should not come down on the base metal or on the product.
If we talk about factory fabrication versus on-site fabrication. Can we wish away on-site fabrication completely?
That will be an ideal thing, and that’s what every fabricator would hope for. In certain cases, on-site fabrication has to be done but I think only at the bare minimum stages. More and more developers and consultants are insisting on factory fabrications rather than on-site fabrications where we can take care of minute detailing in terms of correct methods of fabrication.
There are certain cases where on-site fabrication can’t be totally ignored. Could you elaborate on that?
In certain applications like canopy application, where there is a necessity of a certain amount of grooving and cutting for the end panels, or in case of bullnose fabrications, on-site fabrication may be required. I won’t say that on-site fabrication is not being done correctly at all. It depends on the company and its methods or its insistence on maintaining quality.
Designs are going to be more and more demanding in times to come as a lot of challenging non-geometrical and geometrical shapes will come into the picture. So, fabrication will be more and more challenging tomorrow.
Definitely. Architects are visionaries, and they come up with innovative designs every now and then. It’s fun working on models where complex geometry is involved. A lot of designing comes into play in terms of a façade as well. You have everyone on board from the very beginning: the architect the consultant and the fabricator, and everyone works together to zero in on the right raw materials, the right technology, and all other prerequisites to put together a workable façade. For most of the challenging projects, we all have to actually sit and brainstorm together to find a solution. Now, most of the projects come with their own challenges. We have different wind speeds and different seismic zones to take care of and design a façade accordingly. We have worked quite closely with architects on a lot of projects.
For instance, we did a project maybe 10 years ago, for which we worked out a double skin façade in which we had to build 2 different facades, and we had to understand how the vacuum gets created between the facades, the whole movement of the air between them, and how to extract the warm air out of it.
We actually sat with the architect and designed something in which fresh air ducts could be installed at the top. There are exhaust fans on top which take out the warm air from between the facades, which increases the whole performance of the façade in terms of heat insulation and sound insulation. In another project, the architect wanted open groove system to be employed for working out a pyramid shape, for he didn’t want silicon sealant to be used. Executing that on a skylight was a different challenge altogether.
We had to work out a self-draining system for the pyramid-shaped structure so that the water that went through in absence of sealant was drained out. So there are many projects like that which come with different challenges altogether.
The cost comes on the way of fire rated ACP being made mandatory. How can that scenario be changed?
The scenario is rapidly improving. I see in most of the projects the consultants and architects are now putting their foot down on using non-fire rated ACP. It is becoming mandatory for many projects. The fire departments themselves have representatives participating in façade seminars and are talking about it. So, I don’t see it very far off, when FR ACPs will become mandatory for façades in India.