Managing Director of Aquarian Cladding, Paul Richards, speaks to Architecture Magazine about a fantastic 2018, why terracotta cladding is set to be the next best thing in the construction industry, and the challenges the company faces in 2019.
TELL US ABOUT AQUARIAN CLADDING
Aquarian Cladding is based in Clevedon in North Somerset and was formed in 2007. We supply brick and terracotta cladding systems to the UK construction industry. Our cladding systems have been used on buildings across a wide range of sectors, from residential to commercial, in both the public and private sector. In the past five years, our turnover has increased four-fold, thanks to the increasing demand for our cladding systems.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MAIN REASONS FOR THIS SUCCESS?
We provide quality products, first-class technical support, a customer-focused approach and strong supply chain relationships. We are also known as a reputable supplier acknowledged for the testing and quality of our products, and our team have a wealth of knowledge and experience who understand the issues that drive our clients’ decisions.
WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR TERRACOTTA CLADDING IN 2019?
Terracotta cladding is a 100 per cent natural material composed of clay and fired at high temperatures. It’s durable, robust, recyclable, sustainable and easy to install, and when used creatively it will provide striking façades that won’t fade in sunlight and are weather resistant.
It’s suitable for use in both traditional and contemporary buildings and has proven to outperform alternative cladding systems for durability as well as offering design freedom and flexibility. It can be dry-fixed so it’s not weather dependent; it can be used to create stack or stretcher bond in portrait or landscape format; and it is available in a large range of colours, finishes and sizes.
Our Terreal terracotta cladding system is also rated A1, ie non-combustible, has been tested and certified, is quick to install by approved installers and, when compared to other high-quality façade treatment, is cost-effective too.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN 2019?
Following the terrible Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, an announcement was made by government in December 2018 to ban all cladding that is not A1 or A2 from use on residential, hospitals and schools in England and Wales above 18m. The consequence is that the only materials approved for external walls will be materials such as clay, metal, stone,and glass.
Cladding residential buildings >18m has been our ‘sweet spot’ for our brick cladding system Gebrik over the past few years with some stunning, award-winning and safe buildings completed. Our biggest challenge will, therefore, be in demonstrating to our clients that the system remains safe for use for hotels and offices above 18m and all buildings below, as there still remains much uncertainty.
The most robust large-scale fire test method in the world is BS8414 and there remains no evidence of a building failing as a result of using materials successfully tested to this standard. We have successfully tested to this standard five times and Gebrik has been exposed to real fire incidents with no unexpected or alarming consequences.
Of course, like many business owners, Brexit is also providing an uncertain time for us, but we have made contingency plans and will get on with the job, no matter what deal is reached with the EU.