First produced in 1827 by Friedrich Wohler and originally more valuable than gold, since the Hall–Héroult smelting process allowed for large-scale production of aluminium it’s been a mainstay of engineering and the most widely used non-ferrous metal. Now a recent study confirms this isn’t likely to change, concluding that aluminium in buildings is proven to last and better yet remain in excellent condition for several decades longer than previously thought.

The report, titled Aluminium and Durability: Towards Sustainable Cities, was led by renowned architect Professor Michael Stacey on behalf of the International Aluminium Institute. The findings, which came after detailed examination of several buildings including the Cribbs Causeway in Bristol and FT Printing Works in London, included the following recommendations:

  • Coated aluminium that is used in buildings should be given warranties of up to 40 years.
  • Aluminium that is used in window frames should be given a service life of 80 years, which would be a 40 year upward revision.

The report’s conclusions made note that powder aluminium coatings originally applied in the 70’s were still performing well today and that, when used internally, aluminium has an infinite lifespan , and even when exposed to weather still has a life expectancy of over 120 years. The research also made clear that despite 100’s of examples of aluminium based architecture in the country today that remains fit for purpose, and instead of being forgotten should instead be celebrated.

Though aluminium has been used in some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Empire State Building, the Gherkin and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank HQ, this report brings new evidence to light that aluminium based architecture has a very valuable role to play in the creation of sustainable cities and urban habitats for all humankind.

You can read the report in full via this link: Aluminium and Durability: Towards Sustainable Cities         

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