The 2014 Lacrosse tower fire incident was the first case in Australia to raise alarm bells, followed shortly by other high-profile fire incidents both locally and internationally. Since then, government-led audits have highlighted a widespread issue with the use of combustible cladding across thousands of Australian buildings, leading to calls for greater regulation and a swathe of remediation work across the country.

In this wide-ranging and revealing podcast, we explain the intricacies of facade design, what is and isn't the right way to address the issue of flammable cladding, and where we need to be in the very near future. We hear from Llewellyn Regler, National Technical Manager for facades at Network Architectural, and Matthew O’Neill, who boasts 10 years of engineering and consulting experience in the facade industry. Leveraging his commercial and residential design experience, Matthew has expanded his expertise to include facade remedial works in the existing building space.

“We’ve got, in various states, remediation programs. The biggest one would be Project Remediate here in New South Wales. And then we’ve got Cladding Safety Victoria in relation to cladding,” Llewellyn notes. “The problem with flammable cladding was the sheer volume that was produced and actually installed over here. I’d say it is probably a decade-long venture to fix it up across multi-residential and commercial buildings as well.”

On why Australia has not seen an incident on the same scale in terms of loss of life as Grenfell, Matthew agrees it is a combination both of good luck and design. While Lacrosse had the same kind of cladding as Grenfell, there were relatively effective evacuation procedures, and the sprinkler systems worked. Grenfell, on the other hand, was a top-to-bottom failure.

Stricter regulations and increased duties of care have placed further onus on designers and builders when it comes to facade compliance. “The level of detail that used to be required for your typical small residential development compared to a large-scale commercial; there were leaps and bounds. Having to take on the role of an educator as well has been a significant portion of the job where you’re working with people who haven’t previously engaged facade services,” Matthew explains.

The interview covers other important topics, including the changes needed to the fire testing regime in Australian standards, the growing concerns over condensation and waterproofing in facade design, and the need to engage with facade engineers early in the design process.

Network Architectural specialises in supplying high-quality architectural cladding and facade solutions to architects and specifiers across Australia. The company distributes Mitsubishi ALPOLIC™ NC/A1, which is the safest, most sustainable and most versatile aluminium cladding on the market. It meets all Australian testing and compliance requirements, and it is an approved product for use on Project Remediate NSW.

Find out more about the latest cladding trends and Network Architectural’s industry-leading cladding products by listening to the full Talking Architecture & Design podcast episode. 

This podcast was brought to you in association with Network Architectural. Listen to this episode of Talking Architecture & Design here.