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Wienerberger Building Material Solutions

Grenfell Tower, London

By: Harish Gupta

June 15, 2017 — With 72 confirmed dead but dozens of people still missing in London’s 120-apartment Grenfell Tower

Around 500 people were in the building when the blazes started on the fourth floor – as many as 200 people are missing.

Design specifications seen by the Press Association suggest the renovation work carried out at Grenfell Tower included plans for aluminum cladding with a 50mm “ventilated cavity” to vent moisture next to 150mm of Celotex FR5000 insulation, which has a Class 0 rating — the highest rating for preventing the spread of flames.

Grenfell Tower, London
Grenfell Tower, London

Fire investigators are focusing on the cladding. Experts believe this may have failed with the void between the aluminum panels and building ACP acting as a chimney and fuel to spread the fire.

The aluminum composite panel cladding (ACP) is basically made of three layers, out of which two layers in front and back is aluminum sheet and the middle layer is polyethylene. Polyethylene is a high flammable petroleum product

Under severe fire conditions, timber chars, concrete spalls, steel melts, glass breaks.

But Polyethylene, is a plastic, a petrochemical product. It behaves differently than most building materials.

It is fuel !! ….and it burns !!!

Tall building façades clad with ACP panels which have polyethylene core can potentially transfer a fire, very quickly from one floor to the next, with terrible consequences.

Equipped with this basic understanding of envelope science, you’ll be able to take your knowledge into the field and prevent possible failures.

Harish Gupta

Principal Architect

An Architect, Civil engineer with an MBA in marketing management, Ar. Harish Gupta has journeyed for nearly three decades in the construction industry. Flagging off his career with Pheroze Kudianwala in 1990s, he moved on to India Bulls, Glasswall and others, designing and project managing many landmark buildings. With nearly 15 years as a consulting entrepreneur he now heads his company Habitat-n-Skins offering services under architecture, various verticals of façade design, town planning, project management and audits. His company strategy is to ensure clients give repeated opportunity to work and that is the single motto that drives his team and him to ensure quality projects delivered and client satisfaction achieved.

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