The Free University of Berlin is something of a Le Corbusier landmark even though it was built in 1973. The facade designed by Jean Prouvé followed Le Corbusier's Modular proportional system, which explains the unusual arrangement of staggered window transoms. Foster and Partners are in the process of renovating the building, and has just completed the library facade pictured above. Foster had to replace the Corten steel frame and panels with bronze, as the original detailing of the gaskets had resulted in water getting into the panels and destroying them from the inside. Bronze was chosen because it virtually matched the corroded-rust colour of the Corten - the corrosion was intentional as it provided the steel with a protective rust-coloured shield. The structural mullion was moved by Foster from the outside (cold side) to the inside (warm side) of the facade, and is made from a thermally broken aluminium extrusion. The bronze profile visible from externally acts as a guiding rail for the textile sunshade. Foster also changed the depth of the structure and panels so they could provide the building with more insulation.
Facade: Schmidt Metallbau
Flexible window system
Sapa Building Systems has added a 55 mm window system to its Dualframe range. The system can be used to form fixed lights and top and side hung, tilt-before-turn and pivot windows and can be incorporated into Sapa's MRV curtain walling system. Casements can be internally or externally beaded and the Eurogroove vent design accommodates industry-standard hardware. Sapa says the system meets BS6375 Part 1 on exposure with 600 pa air permeability, 600 pa water penetration and 2400 pa gust loading.
Saga Building Systems
Timber-style plastic windows
Window-manufacturer Andersen has introduced a composite plastic window with a timber appearance. The Woodwright sliding-sash window is manufactured from Fibrex – a patented blend of reclaimed pinewood bonded with a specially-formulated thermoplastic polymer. Andersen says that the composite material delivers the strength, rigidity and thermal performance of wood but with more stability. The polymer-coated fibre is resistant to flaking, blistering, peeling, cracking and corrosion, which means there is no need for painting or regular maintenance. The range is available in 99 standard sizes or can be custom-built.
Crime-resistant steel frames
FendorHansen has formed a partnership with laminated glass specialist McNeill McManus to provide crime-resistant glass for FendorHansen's steel-framing systems. A special resin layer is bonded between a layer of glass and polycarbonate to form strong chemical bonds. FendorHansen claims that when the resin layer is cured it becomes extremely hard, offering high compressive strength and resistance to tensile forces. The company also says that the resin is good at accommodating the thermal movement of the glass and polycarbonate.
Doors of many finishes
JB Kind Doors has introduced its New Concept range of doors. There are five timber finishes and a paint finish, and a sheet of glazing can be installed through a slot in the top edge of the door. There are 18 solid designs and 18 glass versions, and JB Kind says that all doors are available in standard or bespoke sizes.
JB Kind Doors
Wide-ranging coverage for closers
Dorma has produced a new range of covers for its range of door closers. Rack and pinion closers are available in three different cover options and a range of finishes and colours, and Dorma's cam-action range has two cover options and a range of new finishes and colours. Dorma says the covers will enable specifiers to co-ordinate with virtually any interior design scheme.
Doorsets are not as they Apeer
New World Development's Apeer doorset has a wooden appearance, but it does not contain any timber. The doors have a rigid polyurethane core, a GRP skin and aluminium reinforcement. There are eight styles, manufactured with a matching PVCu integral framing unit. The doors are available in a choice of black, white, blue, green, red mahogany and light oak finish. New World Development says the doorset is air-permeable and watertight to 300 Pa and has a minimum 800 Pa wind resistance. The door can include Apeer's patent-pending triple-glazed glass unit. It also meets the security standards PAS 23 and 24 and has been approved by UK Police standards initiative Secured by Design.
New World Development
Tilt and slide external access door
Aluminium systems manufacturer Kawneer has added a new sliding door to its dual colour AA 600 Series Window & Door System. The AA 603 Tilt Slide Door is so called because it tilts for ventilation and slides for access. It has been designed for the high-rise residential market and can be locked from the outside – Kawneer says that existing products do not offer external access as an option. The door also has a 'track filler' that can be clipped over the bottom track after installation to prevent debris from falling into the tracking space while other trades are working. It is available in a range of single and double panel tilt, slide and fixed light combinations.
Lightweight, protective doors LS Leaderflush Shapland has launched a range of acoustic flush doorsets. The sound reduction of the Audiodor ranges from Rw=32-49 dB, and LS Leaderflush says the doorsets offer fire resistance, smoke containment and durability. The doors are light too: the Audiodor 40 Plus has a 44 mm thick door leaf and weighs 30 kg/m2.
The range also includes lightweight doorsets providing X-ray protection. The Leadline AS doorsets can be made with up to 60 minutes of fire resistance, meeting the British Woodworking Federation's BWF CERTIFIRE Scheme, and sound reduction of Rw=39 dB.
Both the Leadline AS and Audidor ranges are part of the Extended Performance range of doorsets. There is a new range of recessed ironmongery, such as mortice lock cases and flush bolts, which can be factory-fitted to its performance doorsets.
LS Leaderflush Shapland
What’s been your best or most successful specification?
Paralam-engineered timber. It has a good structural performance, it’s sustainable and it looks great too.
What’s been your favourite product innovation in recent years?
The intensive sedum roof on my house, which seems to be supporting an ecosystem of weird bug-life and is a pit-stop for passing birds.
What construction product or material do you swear by?
Wood, in various forms. Or the mixer tap!
What material will you still be using in five years’ time?
Wood from renewable sources.
What’s the most overused, cliched building product currently in use?
Butt-jointed, silicone-sealed double glazing. Does red tape keep you awake at night?
No, I sleep well, apart from the circling police helicopters.
What’s your favourite type of door or window?
It’s neck-and-neck between the traditional Georgian box sash window, and any timber windows with the fabulous tilt-and-turn mechanism. You choose!