Thursday, 22 May 2014

Steel in Design: Guest post featuring James Harrison

James Harrison is an Architectural Area Manager at Fielders and expert in all things steel. He joins us on the blog to share the benefits and innovation related to steel in architecture design and construction.

At Fielders, we are often asked why we recommend building with steel over other materials. The simple answer is steel continues to provide flexibility, versatility and durability for architects and builders to bring to life innovations that push industry boundaries. 

Since the 19th Century, steel has readily been adopted into the construction industry due its incredible value and inherent benefits including low maintenance, building efficiency and unmatched strength. It is also a much lighter and malleable option when compared to alternative building materials such as cast iron which, despite its strong compression doesn’t offer the same tension and bending.  

Image by, courtesy of Till Krech
Unlike wood, tiles and slate, steel doesn’t need the same protective coatings to maintain its appearance and resilience. Not only does this make steel a less labour intensive product, it also means long term exposure to the elements won’t undermine its steadfast durability – particularly important in Australia where we are faced with such harsh climatic conditions. 

The heat reflective nature of steel has seen Colorbond become a popular choice for roofing and fencing.  Produced with a zincalume for corrosion resistance and oven-baked with an epoxy primer and exterior grade top-coat, it resists chipping, peeling and cracking to look good for years to come while helping reduce a home’s thermal gain.  

Gleeson College lab by Tridente Architects
One of the other great benefits of steel is its ability to be pre-fabricated into modules offsite, therefore reducing construction build times. Recently we have also experienced increasing demand from the commercial industry for our ARAMAX and FreeForm products that can be rolled onsite with a mobile roll-former. Along with this efficiency, the unrivalled versatility, architectural flexibility and strength of these products allow them to span great distances of up to 20 metres and create distinctive curves without the use of purlings or girts found in conventional structural framing.  

Cesnock Hanger incorporating ARAMAX FreeSpan
More than ever before, the industry is continually seeking ways to push the boundaries of existing design to produce products and projects that deliver optimum efficiency and sustainability. Our team recently worked alongside TS4 Sustainable Living to provide steel roofing for Australia’s very first Zero Carbon House which has set the benchmark for future environmentally friendly design and construction projects. 

Benefits of utilising steel in modern construction are practically endless. This even stems to our Finesse range of fa├žade cladding which provides architects greater range to design within a competitive price bracket. We’ve noticed a particular trend in our Shadowline product in schools around Australia, while Interlocking Panel and Nailstrip have proven popular in residential projects. 

From stadiums, to fencing, to universities and homes, Australia has embraced the benefits of building with steel while the industry continues to expand its capabilities and efficiencies, ensuring a bright future for Australia’s steel industry.