When choosing cladding and facade materials for commercial builds there are several key considerations including aesthetics, safety, functionality durability and environmental impact.

With several tragic cladding-related fires in Australia and worldwide, it is more important than ever that safe, non-combustible building products are used for all building facades.

To ensure Australian buildings are fire-safe, cladding products must comply with Australian Standards and be installed in a manner which complies with the National Construction Code.

Governments step in

 In 2020, the NSW Government commissioned the Cladding Product Safety Panel (CPSP) to provide advice to the NSW Cladding Taskforce and the Cladding Support Unit on the suitability of cladding replacement products and wall assembly methods. The NSW Government also funded Project Remediate which assists the building owners who are required to replace combustible cladding on their residential buildings.

Architecture & Design Magazine reached out to NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler and the team behind Project Remediate for an update, but we were informed that “they are not providing public updates on their projects”.

Cladding in commercial facades

With these new measures in place, cladding is now a safe and savvy option for commercial facades.

Network Architectural’s Mitsubishi ALPOLIC NC/A1 is a recommended cladding choice for commercial buildings, having passed all CPSP testing criteria to be approved for Project Remediate.

Above: Network Architectural’s Mitsubishi ALPOLIC NC/A1 / Supplied

The fire-safe, compliant, aluminium composite cladding is composed of a non-combustible mineral core containing zero polyethylene. Like all ALPOLIC products, Mitsubishi ALPOLIC NC/A1 is easy to process and shape, weather resistant, impact resistant and has superior flatness. The front side is colour-coated with the high-quality fluoropolymer resin Lumiflon FEVE, making it highly resistant to weathering, UV radiation, corrosion and colour fading.

ALPOLIC NC/A1 is a maintenance-free panel that comes standard with a 20-year full replacement warranty. In the case of other cladding products, the warranty is often directly connected to maintenance. It is this requirement for regular maintenance that can impact the embodied carbon of the building.

With ALPOLIC NC/A1, embodied carbon from a life cycle and maintenance point of view is kept to an absolute minimum.

 ALPOLIC NC/A1 was specified for the Telstra Data Exchange building in Penrith which received an upgrade to its facade to remove the dated pebblecrete and increase its aesthetic appeal. 1,400sqm of Mitsubishi ALPOLIC NC/A1 DtS compliant non-combustible cladding in Light Bronze Metallic, Pale Copper Metallic, and Dark Grey Metallic finish were used to reclad and modernise the facade.

ALPOLIC NC/A1 was chosen due to its wide range of standard and custom colour options as well as its superior flatness and exceptional durability.

The wonder of Aluminium

 Another non-combustible cladding solution can be found at Deco Australia. Architectural Business Manager at Deco Australia Simon Pearson said he has seen growth in the demand for low-maintenance and sustainable building materials.

“People are opting for materials that require minimal upkeep to alleviate the issues associated with routine tasks like cleaning, painting, and staining,” he says.

“Aluminium stands as one of the leading materials selected within the commercial sector, renowned for its versatility and capability to create some of the most sophisticated architectural designs. It’s remarkable by strength, lightweight composition, resistance to corrosion and most importantly its non-combustible nature”.

Aluminium's remarkable resistance to corrosion ensures the longevity and durability of structures, safeguarding against the effects of weathering and the environment. This resilience not only extends the lifespan of buildings but also minimises the need for extensive maintenance and repair.

Deco Australia’s DecoClad offering is an easy-to-install and maintain aluminium cladding available in DecoWood and DecoCoat plain powder finishes, requiring no sanding, painting, or staining. It is also compliant with the National Construction Code, AS1530.3 and AS1530.1, ensuring safety with its non-combustible qualities.

It’s ideal for beachfront and high-density settings. Its marine-grade quality features a super durable powder coat finish that resists corrosion while maintaining its original look and finish. DecoClad comes with pre-punched fixing holes allowing for easy installation. It comes in six distinct cladding designs, 30 DecoWood finishes, and an array of plain colours.

DecoClad Narrowline cladding in Natural Silky Oak was selected as the cladding for Zen Oasis, a new function centre in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

This centre was constructed on the same grounds as the existing Zen Oasis Garden Restaurant. Originally built in 1948, the owners wanted to incorporate the unique rustic characteristics of the pre-existing building into their new, one-of-a-kind facility, which includes a restaurant, function centre, conference rooms, workshop, and yoga studio.

Builders Rohrig achieved the desired ‘country charm’ aesthetic by using over 3000 square metres of DecoClad’s aluminium cladding across the entire building façade. The builders originally specified external timber cladding but changed tact to specify DecoClad's 135mm Narrowline aluminium. This was to ensure the futureproofing of the building and reduce maintenance of the property. It also meant that they could minimise the project schedule thanks to DecoClad's easy install system, which offers a fast-cladding solution.

DecoWood Natural Silky Oak from the Australian Native Species collection was specified, as it paired perfectly with the location’s natural surroundings and lake. As well as providing a low-maintenance product that is UV resistant, the cladding boards are also made from 100% solid aluminium and are non-combustible, offering a suitable fire-safe solution.

Above: DecoClad's Silky Oak / Supplied

Terracotta facade cladding

Fairview’s latest cladding offering, suited to commercial settings is Clayton, made from clay with an array of earthy, natural tones and textures available that work perfectly within biophilic design. Terracotta facade cladding has become popular in public buildings like schools, and other high-stress areas due to its durability and strength against harsh weather conditions and its low maintenance requirements. Terracotta cladding’s structural composition of mass and density creates higher thermal insulation, improving noise reduction and providing UV and weather resistance that offers the added benefit of increased energy efficiency to the build. 

Fairview also offers a versatile fibre cement cladding known as Genesis. This prefinished, engineered fibre cement cladding is available in a range of cladding profiles. Manufactured in Europe, Genesis offers a complete fixing system. This includes panels which can be cut to size onsite, battens and accessories, all of which help reduce installation hours.

Genesis fibre cement cladding is popular across many commercial settings including hospitals, art galleries, aged care centres and schools.

Fairview supplied over 6500sqm of Genesis pre-finished compressed fibre cement panels for Stage 1 of the Logan Hospital Expansion in Queensland. The Genesis profiles chosen were Hewn and Raw in the colours Light Slate and Graphite. Genesis Raw has a natural, textured surface and the slight colour variations in the panels add uniqueness, charm, and character.

Durability is the key

Another premium cladding solution for upscale commercial builds comes from UniCote. They offer quality pre-painted metal that is product-tested and manufactured for harsh Australian conditions. It is a durable and flexible product with colours to complement the Australian landscape. UniCote LUX is a luxury pre-painted patterned steel designed to suit high-end architecture. A highly durable product it offers stunning aesthetics for exterior and interior use.

The UniCote LUX Architectural range has a selection of patterns capturing the rustic weathering effects of Corten, the warmth and earthy tones of three specially selected timbers and the crafted look of zinc titanium through to the darkest available matt finish, Midnight Matt.

UniCote was specified for Teakle Wines, The Cellar Door in South Australia which took out Best Building Excellence Award in the $2 million to $5 million category at the Master Builders SA Awards. Inspired by a wine barrel, the need for a timber look was integral to the overall creative concept. The Cellar Door uses UniCote LUX Ashwood to achieve the desired timber finish on the exterior of the building and blend in seamlessly next to the vineyard.

Technology to the rescue

Those seeking innovative, energy-efficient materials for their commercial facade can look to Metz facades’ Onyx Solar products. This photovoltaic ventilated façade is not only aesthetically pleasing but also has great thermal performance, and is a new source of free, clean electricity. The electricity generated by the system can be either injected into the grid, or it can be consumed right in the instant that it is generated. The thermal barrier that they create can result in energy savings of up to 50% of the building´s current demand.

Onyx Solar can develop 100% personalised photovoltaic ventilated façades for each project. Onyx Solar uses photovoltaic glass as a material for buildings to capture sunlight and turn it into electricity. The panes are made of layers of heat-treated safety glass which can provide the same thermal and acoustic insulation as conventional architectural glass while letting natural light through in the same way. This means photovoltaic glass and glass panes can easily replace conventional glass on building facades.

Onyx Solar supplied its new and innovative crystalline silicon photovoltaic glass with white digital printing as a photovoltaic facade in the Beit Havered building, located in Givatayim, which is part of the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv, Israel. (see below)

 For this project, the “Hidden PV” glass was installed as a cladding system on the facade of the building. The glass includes solar cells hidden inside its surface. It has a clear appearance where solar cells are not visible at all. It can be produced in 17 different colours, including white.

 The installation is composed of 242 units of crystalline silicon photovoltaic glass with several dimensions. Beit Havered is a six-story commercial and office building. The building was refurbished to become net zero energy and to generate the energy it consumes. It includes offices, recreational and commercial areas, open spaces, 450 parking spaces, and an extensive infrastructure that allows cycling and easy access to public transportation.

 DCA Facade also offers high-quality architectural facade solutions for commercial settings including impact and sustainable Rainscreen Facade Systems such as those from Tempio.

Ventilated or Rainscreen Facade Systems are not just aesthetically pleasing, they’re also non-combustible, have great thermal and acoustic insulation and offer ongoing weather-tightness for the life of the building.

Water repellant designs

When rain and wind force moisture towards the building, it is deflected off the outer layer of the facade. The moisture that permeates the outer layer is then managed through ventilation and drainage in the cavity between the primary weatherproof layer and the secondary weatherproof layer.

Tempio has an extensive range of colourful, high impact and sustainable Rainscreen Facades with thousands of combinations of colours and finishes as well as many tile and baguette lengths and widths. Custom tile and baguette profiles can also be manufactured to suit the most complex of design criteria. All are supported with engineered fixing systems for true peace of mind.

Tempio Facades were used as part of the transformation of Yarrila Place, a dynamic cultural and civic space in the heart of Coffs Harbour, in far north New South Wales. This project, designed by BVN and constructed by Lipman rejuvenated the Harry Bailey Memorial Library into a vibrant community hub.

The facade of Yarrila Place played a pivotal role in achieving this vision.

DCA Façade worked with BVN Architects to bring the transformation to life, using Tempio’s facade products, the FS System and High Profile.

Tempio’s precision-engineered curtain wall system not only adds aesthetic appeal to the structure but also maximises natural light penetration, creating an inviting and energy-efficient interior. Meanwhile, the inclusion of terracotta tiles adds warmth and character to the exterior, blending harmoniously with the natural surroundings and giving Yarrila Place a distinctive charm.

Ultimately the facades helped to achieve vibrant, modern, and sustainable cultural and civic space that encapsulates the essence of Coffs Harbour.

Cladding and facades provide beautiful design flexibility and added protection for the exterior of commercial buildings. There are so many stylish, sturdy, and environmentally conscious options to choose from and now, with stricter building code rules enforced, clients can be rest assured they’re fire safe too.

Main Image: DCA / Martin Siegner BVN / Yarrila Place


Durlum Ceilings (Network Architectural)

Deco Australia 



Metz Facades

DCA Facade