To a large percentage of the population, the term ‘cladding’ is an unfamiliar word. When asked to explain its purpose, many would admit that they would find the task somewhat tricky without first carrying out a little research. However, when we delve deeper into the basic definition of cladding, the concept is in fact, incredibly simple. Cladding is used as an outer layer of material to protect the underlying structure of a building. The primary responsibility of cladding is to stop the building from beginning to deteriorate over time, essentially, increasing its lifespan.

When strolling through any town or city, it is almost guaranteed that you will come across a building that uses cladding. While you may not realise it, it is extremely likely that your workplace, favourite sports facility or shopping centre has utilised a host of cladding systems to create its appearance. Even some of the most popular, well-known landmarks across the globe feature cladding to achieve their unique aesthetics. With this in mind, to give a better insight into the plethora of fantastic possibilities of cladding, we have devised a list of our five favourite exterior cladding designs around the world.

5 Unique Exterior Cladding Designs

A number of different materials can be used to create cladding panels, each of which come alongside their own benefits. Timber, stone, glass and vinyl are all just some of the many materials available when opting to equip a building with cladding. One of the most significant advantages of cladding is that, regardless of the material type, panels require little maintenance making them increasingly cost-effective. Each panel can be customised in colour using onsite spraying and made to measure to fit even the most complex of designs. It continues to remain one of the most flexible and versatile construction materials, which is why cladding is used so widely across the globe – here is just some of the ways that talented architects have used cladding to their advantage.

1. Singapore Life Church

As one of the oldest Presbyterian Churches in the country, the Singapore Life Church dates back as early as the late 1800s. Based on background information from Archello, many different factors contributed towards the choice to modernise the church and rebrand its design. Due to ongoing underground construction projects nearby, the church walls were beginning to crack, causing safety hazards. The church also believed that the current structure was not using the available space to its best advantage, and would benefit from expanding to ensure that it was able to meet the growing needs of the neighbourhood.

When creating initial designs, the main focus was on the topic of light. The neighbourhood used light as a symbol of the hope that Christ would bring, therefore, wanted to incorporate this concept into their new, modernised church. Using perforated white aluminium cladding to allow light to shine through, panels were sewn together in a formation that purposely directed towards the Cross. Inside would consist of seven storeys which would include the main chapel, a smaller, more intimate chapel, prayer rooms and open spaces for communal activities. The building was then finished with an outer layer of curtain walling.

The Singapore Life Church remains open to the public with a number of different worship services running every Sunday, many of which are in English.

Singapore Life Church

2. Aspen Art Museum

The construction of the new Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, US is thought to have cost a huge $65m and was designed as part of a competition. Officials of the Aspen Art Museum decided that they would leave designs in the hands of the public, inviting a host of architects to enter their proposed ideas for the new building project. The winning architect was Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect known for his innovative eco-friendly designs and work to build efficient housing for natural disaster victims.

Shigeru Ban’s design featured the use of both glass and wood cladding that would be delicately constructed to achieve a quirky woven effect. The wooden cladding would have a customised formula made of Prodema, two thin layers of wood which would then be filled with a combination of resin and paper. Once woven, the wooden cladding panels would allow sunlight to filter through creating a source of natural lighting for the gallery spaces. The four-storey museum would have the capacity for six large galleries, creating 12,500ft2 of exhibition space with the main reception made entirely from glass.

Work was completed in 2013, and the Aspen Art Museum is now open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm with free entry to the public. For more information on the construction of the Aspen Art Museum, take a look at Design Build Network.

Aspen art museum

Photo credit to AIA.

3. Marqués de Riscal Hotel

When discussing unique cladding designs, the Marqués de Riscal Hotel is most definitely up there with one of the most weird and wonderful buildings you will come across on your travels. Concealed away in the acres of green landscape in Elciego, Spain, the Marqués de Riscal Hotel really is a hidden treasure. Designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry, the hotel has won the title of one of the most sought-after contemporary, futuristic retreats.

The foundation structure of the Marqués de Riscal is made with a neutral limestone cladding and wooden framed windows, creating a blank canvas for the outer masterpiece. Multiple layers of aluminium cladding panels are then ribboned across the roof, thought to be designed to replicate the flowing skirts of traditional flamenco dancers. According to Frank Gehry, sections of the aluminium panels are purposely tinted with a slight pink tone to represent Rioja, the most popular type of Spanish wine, made in Elciego. The remaining panels are left silver to signify the foil that covers wine bottle cork.

Marqués de Riscal Hotel

4. Heydar Aliyev Centre

Similarly to the Aspen Art Museum, the final design of the Heydar Aliyev Centre was selected after a competition between Azerbaijan’s most celebrated architects in 2007. As the winners, the responsibility was left to Zaha Hadid Architects, who opted for an ambitous futuristic theme to suit Azerbaijan’s heavy investment in modernising the country’s architecture. The building would be used as the home of the nation’s cultural programmes; the Zaha Hadid Architects wanted to build a structure that would celebrate the Azeri culture and portray their dedication remaining optimistic for the future.

Due to the complexity of the design, a combination of a concrete structure and space frame system was used during construction. A space frame is the most lightweight form of structure and is made using a framework that interlocks in a geometric design. It is incredibly flexible and means that minimal interior supports need to be used creating a free-form structure. In doing this, the Zaha Hadid Architects would be able to achieve the curved, flowing appearance of the Heydar Aliyev Centre they had hoped for. The final choice in cladding systems proved to be a balance of Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete and Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester. Using this combination, the cladding would form a versatile material allowing full plasticity to be moulded and shaped with ease. For more information on the construction of the Heydar Aliyev Centre, take a look at Arch Daily.

Heydar Aliyev Centre

5. Museum of Contemporary Art

There are a number of galleries titled “Museum of Contemporary Art” around the world, all of which are constructed with unique architecture. However, the design that most definitely stood out from the crowd for us was Australia’s Museum of Contemporary Art, based in Sydney. As a former Maritime Services Board building, the Museum of Contemporary Art is relatively new to the scene, opening to the public just seven years ago. The $53 million project was managed by the well-known, experienced architect, Sam Marshall, who opted for an innovative digital infrastructure.

The foundation of the new design would be based on a simple, white box concept. Surrounding the base would be smaller boxes, arranged asymmetrically in a monochrome colour scheme including black, white and transparent forms. The transparent boxes were cleverly placed in an angle that would show off the artwork hidden inside, enticing the public passing by to visit the museum. Reinforced concrete cladding would be used for the black and white sections, along with thin, yet ultra durable glass panels for the transparent boxes. Sam Marshall deliberately created a design that had a contemporary feel, not only to reflect the name of the museum but also to completely transform the original heritage building.

The five-storey Museum of Contemporary Art is open to the public 7-days a week from 10pm to 5pm. Wednesdays are open a little longer until 9pm. They provide visitors with a free guided tour throughout the day available to all age groups.

Museum of contemporary art

Photo credit to Flickr.

Bring Your Vision To Life Through Cladding!

The possibilities when constructing designs using cladding are endless. Each component can be entirely customised to suit your requirements and bring your vision to life. The five fantastic buildings mentioned above are just some of the many examples of unique designs that can be used as inspiration when building your own. One of the most significant benefits of cladding is that if you ever decide that you would like to change the design, the building can be resprayed. Using either commercial onsite spraying or curtain walling spraying, the building can be entirely transformed in just a few days!

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