How to Design and Install Seamless Translucent Polycarbonate Facades

How to Design and Install Seamless Translucent Polycarbonate Facades

Translucent polycarbonate panels boast unique and striking aesthetics while simultaneously maintaining efficient functionality. They can add depth and color to a façade and may adapt to meet a wide range of performance requirements, from temperature resistance to impact resistance to UV protection and more. Rodeca, a leading company in the polycarbonate panel industry, offers high-quality products with high customizability vis-à-vis colors, transparency levels, treatments, profiles, sizes, joint systems, and more. Below is a detailed list of these many options, accompanied by diagrams and installation steps. We also discuss several case studies where polycarbonate facades have been used to great success, taking full advantage of the options available alongside the intrinsic aesthetic qualities of the translucent panels to complement and elevate their designs.

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Physical Therapy Clinic / Alberich-Rodríguez Arquitectos. Image Courtesy of Carlos Alberich

Properties

One of the most attractive dimensions of the Rodeca polycarbonate panels is their ease of installation. These panels can be fastened without complicated extraneous tools, making installation fast, clean, and easy for almost any project of any specification. This quality makes these panels a valuable asset for projects that seek to minimize construction times and costs without sacrificing aesthetics and quality. 

Other advantageous properties include high-temperature resistance, high impact resistance, and good long-term performance, rendering the Rodeca panels not only easy to install but easy to maintain as well. With the polycarbonate panels' temperature resistance falling between -40 and +115°C, and temporarily up to +130°C, these products can be used in high-temperature spaces where most other thermoplastics cannot be used anymore. Likewise, with an impact resistance at 200 times greater than glass, the polycarbonate panels are extremely resistant to force and are highly unlikely to break. 

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Courtesy of Rodeca
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Courtesy of Rodeca

Furthermore, to ensure good long-term performance, the panels are formed using UV co-extrusion, where a high concentrated UV protection film is homogeneously melted onto the base material during the production process. This production method avoids several common issues with UV protection film, including adhesion problems and impairment of impact resistance. The film, which is always applied on the outer wall of the façade, also provides better resistance to environmental influences and ageing, ensuring long-term performance against most weather conditions. Altogether, UV radiation is stopped by almost 100% up to a certain level (380 Nm).

Colors and Treatments

These high-quality properties are accompanied by a wide range of aesthetic options, including dozens of colors and treatments that can be adapted to the mood or atmosphere of almost any project. The options include classic colors, opalized colors, and pastel colors, encompassing dozens of total color options with combinations not included. 

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Courtesy of Rodeca
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Courtesy of Rodeca

In addition to these colors, Rodeca also offers a DuoColor option which allows the panel to be produced in two different colors, or in a combination of crystal and opal. Other multi-color treatment options include:

  • BiColor: Two-colored version of the panels where the inside layer has another color than the rest of the panel.
  • DecoColor: Two-colored version of the panels where the outside layer has another color than the rest of the panel.
  • DecoStripes: Basic body is in crystal, stripes are offset on both sides in any color

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Courtesy of Rodeca

Other effects, besides the standard options, include pearl, Heatbloc, metallic, and a frosted color option that is only available for DecoColor and DuoColor versions. The pearl effect gives the panel a shimmering surface with different color nuances. The Heatbloc coating looks similar to the pearl effect, but also has the functional effect of reducing heat radiation further. The metallic option, available in copper and silver, appears like a shiny metallic surface. 

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Courtesy of Rodeca

Frame Profiles

Frame profiles for Rodeca panels come in two types adaptable to different projects and project needs: the non-thermally broken system and the thermally broken system. The thermally broken profile is highly energy efficient, with a high-performance insulator—in this case thermoplastic elastomer, or TPE—acting as an inner seal. 

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Courtesy of Rodeca
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Courtesy of Rodeca

Installation

Roughly, the aluminum frame profiles can be installed in three different ways: installation in reveal, rainscreen installation, and pitched rainscreen installation. When installing, the specified profile connectors must be used. These connections may either be prefabricated or mitred on-site, with this flexibility contributing to ease of installation.

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Courtesy of Rodeca
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Courtesy of Rodeca

After the frame profiles are installed and fixed to the substructure, the translucent panels are simply placed one after another into the frame’s grooves. Once the panels are installed, the front plates must be mounted into the frame profile. Finally, an external gasket must be installed compressed to compensate for shrinkage. Altogether, this installation process is relatively quick, easy, and efficient, lending to a seamless construction process.

Case Studies

Below are several examples of projects that utilized Rodeca's polycarbonate panels to great effect, taking advantage of the many color and treatment options to create a wide range of atmospheres and environments for different projects. 

Rooftop Sauna in London / Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture
This sauna on the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof terrace uses illuminated translucent polycarbonate panels, emitting a diffused but strong glow intended as “a bright landmark for London’s winter nights.”

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Rooftop Sauna in London / Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Image © Valentina Casalini
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Rooftop Sauna in London / Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Image © Valentina Casalini
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Rooftop Sauna in London / Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Image © Valentina Casalini

Basildon Campus / Gibberd
This campus of the South Essex College uses this type of panels for external rainscreen and glazing. Alternating between large glass windows and the white polycarbonate façade, the design appears sleek and modern from the exterior, while the interior is bathed in diffused natural light.

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Basildon Campus / Gibberd. Image © Rodeca, Paul Jackson
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Basildon Campus / Gibberd. Image © Rodeca, Paul Jackson

Centr'Al / B-architecten
Puncturing the white marble façade of this community building in Belgium are alternating transparent glass windows and translucent polycarbonate panels. Emitting a diffused orange glow from the artificial internal lighting when viewed from the outside, and ushering diffused natural light into the inside, the panels “liven up the building’s functions.”

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Centr'Al / B-architecten. Image © Lucid
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Centr'Al / B-architecten. Image © Lucid
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Centr'Al / B-architecten. Image © Lucid

New Cultural Center in Ranica / DAP studio + Paola Giaconia
This cultural center in Ranica, Italy is composed of an upper and lower volume housing a library, auditorium, and performing arts school. The top volume is sheathed in Rodeca translucent polycarbonate sheets, which glow in vibrant purple and blue swathes and allow the silhouettes of people to be seen through the façade.

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© Alessandra Bello
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© Alessandra Bello
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© Alessandra Bello

Physical Therapy Clinic / Alberich-Rodríguez Arquitectos
This physical therapy clinic in Spain uses white translucent polycarbonate panels in its interior to soften and hide the structural skeleton, creating a soft, soothing environment for patients.

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Physical Therapy Clinic / Alberich-Rodríguez Arquitectos. Image Courtesy of Carlos Alberich

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Physical Therapy Clinic / Alberich-Rodríguez Arquitectos. Image Courtesy of Carlos Alberich

Cite: "How to Design and Install Seamless Translucent Polycarbonate Facades" 10 Aug 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/964597/how-to-design-and-install-seamless-translucent-polycarbonate-facades> ISSN 0719-8884
Centr'Al / B-architecten. Image © Lucid

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