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Permasteelisa's cladding job of the century: the Guggenheim Bilbao
Permasteelisa's cladding job of the century: the Guggenheim Bilbao

Recent projects such as More London, Plantation Place and the new Wembley Stadium, are giving Londoners a taste of the style that this Italian multinational has previously lavished on landmark projects such as Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, the European parliament in Brussels and Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong.

The massive investment in research and development, the commitment to environmentally engineered products and the company’s unremitting design standards have all combined to ensure Permasteelisa’s continued presence in the shortlist of the country’s best cladding firms. Or, as we now know, the very best.

Runners up

The design-oriented approach of Surrey-based curtain walling specialist Pluswall has led to the development of a wide range of products including brises-soleil, concealed automatic opening vents and, most recently, photovoltaic panels. This commitment to innovation was illustrated in the firm’s work on Endeavour House in Ipswich, where it installed the UK’s largest curtain wall with fully integrated photovoltaic panels.

Pluswall’s unique approach to product design and development has been recognised with its involvement in a number of European Union and government-funded renewable energy research projects.

The firm that clad such iconic projects as Foster and Partners’ Swiss Re tower and the Greater London Authority building has founded on its reputation on state-of-the-art 3D design and manufacturing systems and its in-house research facilities.

And this technology-led success story is being translated into other languages: Schmidlin has recently opened production facilities in Mussafah, the industrial hub of Abu Dhabi, and Kumi in South Korea. This will put the firm in an ideal position to spread its design and production values to the rapidly growing Middle Eastern and Far Eastern markets.

Schneider’s 20th year working in the UK has also been one of its most successful, with turnover up 25% to £25m. This has been in no small part due to the southern German firm’s work on projects for three of the country’s most venerable institutions: the BBC’s White City development, Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood facilities and Cambridge University’s faculties of English and Criminology.

That such esteemed clients should choose this relative newcomer is testament to Schneider’s impeccable design standards, state-of-the-art facilities and friendly, personal approach to customer care.

SIAC construction
Irish company SIAC has flourished in the PFI marketplace, having provided facades for Darent Valley Hospital in Kent, Dudley Hospital in the West Midlands and Sandwell Hospital in Birmingham. SIAC has also recently been awarded the contract to provide 30,000 m2 of external facade at Coventry Walsgrave Hospital.

Part of the attraction for these big-hitting clients is the firm’s use of factory fabrication, which considerably reduces the level of site waste, offers factory controlled quality standards and minimises on-site safety risks.