A curtain wall is an external envelop of a building in which the walls are non-structural, meaning they do not “form part of a structural system but may from time to time be subject to forces other than their own weight.”( Windapo, A . 2012. Course reader). The curtain wall building that I visited is ABSA Centre Cape Town, which is the first aluminium-framed building in Cape Town to use a continuous glass curtain wall. This type of wall is different from other types by its construction method and the types of materials used. ,
Photograph 1, showing ABSA Centre Cape Town
When erecting this kind of building, the elements which include aluminium beams and posts, concrete columns and slabs and the non-load bearing infill panels (which in this case are glasses), are “assembled and glazed in the factory, shipped to the site and erected on the building”(Vigener, N. 2011. Building Envelope Design) using tower cranes. The construction process mainly involves attaching or connecting these factory made materials to the aluminium frame using welded screwing, bolting or joint sealants to join the glass to aluminium. This type of wall construction is faster and cost-effective since it can be easily installed and controlled compared to other types like masonry walls although on large projects a proper and careful design, which takes into consideration the National Building Regulation (NBR) requirements such as; water penetration, structural strength and stability, behaviour on fire, condensation, thermal expansion and contraction, thermal movement and aesthetic, is necessary. Beams, which support the floor and the roof system and posts, which carry the beams and transfer the loads to the foundation, are made of aluminium. Aluminium metal is the best choice to be used in a large curtain wall project since it has high strength-weight ratio, low density, good coefficient of thermal expansion and also because it resists corrosion. (Everett, A. Mitchell’s...
References: • Everett, A. 1994. Mitchell’s Materials. 5th edition. Longman
• Vigener, N. 2011. Building Envelope Design. [Online] Available http://www.wbdg.org/design/env_fenestration_cw.php
• Windapo, A. (2012) CON1004W 2011 Course Reader 2
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