An unusual facade fabricated from ALPOLIC/PE aluminium composite material has been installed on a newly completed house in Los Angeles, creating a standout, impactful appearance. Designed and built by Electroland LLC, the Tivoli house is the newest addition to the firm’s extensive portfolio of projects that bring engaging architectural artworks to highly public spaces. Completed in January 2017, the project was designed and built by Cameron McNall, founder and principal of Electroland.

Resembling a decorative box, similar to a tissue box cover, the hanging facade features perforations in floral shapes with negative space to reveal the stuccoed and extensively glazed two-storey inner wall. A nine-inch gap between the facade and residential structure within creates an intriguing sense of dimensionality.

As an experienced fabricator and builder with a hands-on understanding of building materials, McNall enjoys exploring applications that may not be obvious when working solely with paper, CAD and BIM. For the Tivoli project, McNall challenged himself to design a unique facade that would hang independently rather than serve as cladding on the building.

Exploring different materials to suit the application, he decided on aluminium composite material. However, finding an ACM manufacturer proved to be difficult. According to McNall, most ACM manufacturers were hesitant to get involved for fear of litigation because he would be using the material in a non-standard way. However, ALPOLIC agreed to manufacture the ACM panels to his requirements.

The Tivoli project is the first time ALPOLIC materials have been used in such an unconventional system. Being much lighter and more stable than aluminium sheets, ACM could be easily fabricated into limitless shapes using CNC. The Valspar Valflon architectural coating eliminated any need for custom painting.

The facade’s unusual hanging system required a sign-off from the LA Department of Building and Safety. The ALPOLIC team performed the necessary testing and documentation to obtain the Los Angeles Research Report (LARR) approval, which certifies that alternative materials are equivalent or better than materials specified in the building code in terms of quality, fire resistance, strength, effectiveness, durability and safety.

With the LARR number in hand, and by providing ample redundancies in the riveting system and also adding trusses for stability in high winds, McNall was able to win the Building Department’s approval.

McNall hopes his success will help catalyse new possibilities for material suppliers, fabricators, and permitting agencies responsible for the quality and safety of the built environment; he also hopes to inspire tomorrow’s architects to pursue their own unconventional visions.

CSP Architectural sources and supplies an extensive range of quality building products including composite aluminium panels, polyurethane panels, titanium, steel, zinc and copper composite materials.