Thursday 4th November saw architects, installers and industry experts descend on London’s striking Building Centre in Bloomsbury to experience the latest and greatest in rainscreen façade design and safety.
Organised by North-East based rainscreen cladding expert Sotech, the event was designed to help people from the industry burst out of their post-lockdown bubble, build new connections with industry experts and learn about the latest trends in the industry.
Claire Ryan, Marketing Manager at Sotech said: “We were blown away with attendance on the day. I think a lot of people wanted to get out from behind their desks to network with similar minded people, and see what was new and unique in the industry.
“The talks were detailed and varied but I have to say that I am so grateful to our guests who came along, including our wonderful suppliers who sponsored the event and Nick Jenkins of International Fire Consultants who was one of our key speakers.
“Looking back, I think the virtual reality experience was a real mind opener on the day. Members were able to put on the VR headset and sample the Sotech range of rainscreen products, changing the material and finish with the click of a button.”
The event opened with a live Riba-approved CPD, lead by Sotech’s Regional Specification Manager Simran Thiara. Simran focused on the latest safety regulations, the key findings of the Hackitt Report and testing and certification requirements in the UK.
Simran said: “We must all act in the present, learn from the past and build for a safer future! Fire safety has become the biggest concern for all those involved in the construction industry.
“With recent changes to building regulations, we are persevering to help educate and raise awareness with members of the industry on the risks and best practice associated with rainscreen systems.
“Our main goal from the ‘Present, Future and Beyond’ event was to build a platform to discuss these fundamental topics, drawing upon the experience and expertise of key members within the industry.
“We wanted to create an event that could be used at all levels within the value chain from developers to architects right through to city councils and contractors. The key objective of the CPD was to improve the understanding of safely specifying rainscreen cladding. The program is designed to provide the correct information and knowledge to help recognise the procedures and methodology behind industry testing and certification. The aim of the day was to deliver the fundamental factors to consider, when it comes to safe specifying.
“Following on from a global pandemic, the event was a huge success to collaborate and network with a feel of normality – not only with the Sotech team but also with key suppliers who delivered a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We strongly believe through active engagement, we together can strive to create safer buildings for a safer future.
“The future of construction is definitely going digital. The element of our innovative VR technology was a huge focal point on the day, which gave the attendees a real feel for the endless possibilities which will take specifying to the next level!”
You can apply here to book a live run through of the CPD.
With the audience warmed up and notebooks open, the event’s keynote speaker took to the podium. Technical Manager, Nick Jenkins of International Fire Consultants, spoke in detail on the journey of a remediation project, including the intricacies involved in delivering a successful remediation project including, planning, problem-solving and practical know-how while facing challenges such as weatherproofing, structural integrity and insulation needs.
Nick’s talk led to lots of intrigue and questions from the audience, with people curious to learn about the idiosyncrasies of projects that required recladding.
During the event, Sotech launched not one but two brand new products to the market.
The first, Optima XTR Contour, was unveiled by Jamie Smith, an Estimator at Sotech. Jamie spoke passionately about the benefits of the XTR range. The eye-catching extrusion that is tailored to meet an architect’s unique vision and is extremely hardwearing, versatile and durable.
Jamie added: “The XTR Contour range is fantastic! The range gives you the appearance of terracotta cladding but is much lighter, more cost effective, and more versatile. As it is made from extruded aluminium 6063-T6 it is also extremely hardwearing.
“For me, what’s amazing is just how eye catching the system is, and how readily it can be customised to an architect’s vision. This system, which comes in a huge range of choice of colours and finishes including A1 & A2 (Anodised & PPC) finishes, lends itself to use in all areas including low-level vulnerable areas through superior deflection and impact resistance.”
Lee Gravett, Product Development Manager at Sotech, followed to launch Optima Edge, a secret fix rainscreen with a flat panel appearance and a clean, crisp Edge.
Lee commented: “Optima Edge is a huge breakthrough in cladding. As a desirable variation on the innovative Optima FC+ secret fix hook on rainscreen model, the design team was able to make significant modifications to give the new system a floating panel appearance with a clean, crisp edge.
“There are so many benefits to this system – Mechanical fixing methods and no use of adhesives, make it a true A1 and A2 system, it’s fire tested to BS8414-2;2020, and classified in BR135 for high rise buildings, and it’s available in Euroclass A1 and A2 – s1,d0.”
The session was drawn near to a close with a live Q&A from the panel of speakers before the highlight of the event was unveiled.
Chris Dutton of ANIMA stood to unveil a cutting-edge technology, brand new to the rainscreen cladding sector: a virtual experience of rainscreen cladding systems, materials and finishes.
Chris spoke of the ‘new internet’, demonstrating how people will review, interact with and select products in the future.
Chris said: “This virtual reality technology is the future of the internet. Working with Sotech, we’ve been able to recreate the entire Optima range in this virtual space. Users can now select a system, change the system material and finishes, disassemble and reassemble each system as well as find key information on how to build with Optima – all inside a real time environment built with Unreal Engine.”
As Chris’s live demonstration drew to a close, members of the audience were invited up to put on the head set and try the virtual experience for themselves.
You can apply here for access to the Alpha Test.
As the event continued, industry experts manned their stalls, meeting and greeting attendees and answering questions from guests.
Sotech would like to say a very special thank you their industry experts and supply partners – who sponsored the event and were present to answer questions from the guests. A list of the suppliers can be found below.
The team would also like to say a very special thank you to everyone who attended the afternoon, took part in the discussions and stayed to ask questions and enquire about the Sotech range of rainscreen cladding products.