Porcelain is an earth-friendly material which is used for millions of years by kings and peasants to make pots, pans and other exquisite utensils. Some of these have withstood the test of time to emerge as the much sought after artifacts today.
Porcelain is produced with the baptism of fire to become what is universally accepted as one of the most, if not the most fire resistant building material – so much so that it is typically accepted and not regulated by fire authorities around the world.
This is an extremely important factor to consider especially at this critical time when most of the clients and architects in Singapore are in the midst of taking the prudent decision to stay away from materials which bear even the slightest resemblance to the combustible ACP panels.
A large format thin gauge porcelain panel is produced primarily for the benefit of the exterior cladding industry. As porcelain is essentially stronger considered the equivalent of a well ironed shirt. Since the product is produced under intense heat, no amount of heat inflicted directly from the sun will affect its optical appearance giving it the stability and the opulence not normally found in solid aluminium. The high temperature firing process also explains why the porcelains core itself will always remain inert even during the worst fire.
Large format porcelain surfaces are also seen as large canvases and a rich playground for designs and creativity. Most porcelain panels are designed to flame the architects’ imagination for exquisite designs. Beyond the rich collection of solid colors, there is also an incredible range of designer’s favorites such as stone, wood and metallic textured surfaces, all produced with careful attention to the finest detail.
Variations of Calacatta and Travertino stone panels, for example, can be produced with “copyright” from nature. They “copy” from nature and make it “right” beyond every imagination.
In fact, they make it so right, so real and so pristine that at least one major manufacturer would do no less than to guarantee them for the next 25 years.
Natural stones such as marble and sandstone are typically considered to be too heavy, too weak and too water absorbent for external cladding. Porcelain stones on the other hand may be large, but they are lightweight and completely water and fire resistant. Besides, the supply of natural stone is finite process. Indiscriminate harvesting of stones is also a huge environmental problem. Hence, the use of porcelain engineered stone as a superior alternative to natural stone is gaining popularity especially with architects with strong environmental conviction. As a result of which exquisite looking porcelain panels are increasing being accepted by the world most renowned architects, designers and big brand chain stores.
Porcelain panels are the highly engineered product for the cladding industry. You can’t just sell pieces of it over the counter and expect your customers to use it whichever way they think is right. It has to be system designed and engineered to suit different applications and to achieve different architectural values. This is where we as façade specialists and experts in porcelain cladding can help to provide much needed technical input in order to achieve the highest value in optimizing the material and engineering designs.
Porcelain cladding can be applied externally as ventilated façades or internally as luxurious floor and wall panels.
Rising beyond the impressive collection of project references around the world, Singapore’s impressive list of porcelain projects includes the eminently impressive Philip Starck designed hotel, The South Beach Singapore (now known as JW Marriot), Clifford Center and the soon to be completed Laguna Hotel.
In Malaysia, the iconic Gleneagles Hospital façade is also well finished in porcelain cladding.
Porcelain panel is a naturally sustainable material. It is completely recyclable on cradle to cradle basis. Its low embodied carbon footprint, typically achieved with solar energy, is widely recognized for green building certification.
Its value as a superior cladding material is really what the customers are looking for in a porcelain panel. The difference between what is considered high price and what is considered the right price, is not too difficult to be appreciated.
It is quite obvious therefore that porcelain panels will continue to be specified and will continue to gain confidence & popularity with discerning clients and architects.
It provides, among many other great advantages, a peace of mind to all stakeholders knowing that they have selected a product that is their safest bet against the current uncertainty with fire safety.
Philip Kwang is a Director of Façade Global Master Pte Ltd Singapore. He is a façade consultant, an inventor and a lecturer at Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore. His current interests are to lead the industry in façade innovation and advance materials, façade lightings and BIPV.