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COLUMN MARIANNE | PLASTIC SLAPSTICK

19 April 2017

Cobouw marianne loof 170419 kunststof kletspraat

As an architectural firm, we regularly receive news of the latest innovative and sustainable products. We are always curious and open to such novelties: they could enable particular designs or improve the quality of our buildings.
Recently, our design for a project in the dunes near Scheveningen sought to create the ultimate living experience with spacious full-glass facades on floors of 2.90 meters tall – instead of the standard 2.60 meters. For who would not enjoy unrestricted views of this stunning landscape from their living or bedroom? It is perfectly possibly to build window frames and sliding doors in these larger dimensions using aluminium: slim, smooth, and coastal environments-proof through a pre-anodisation treatment.

But the client preferred plastic window frames. Its cheap looks and limited scalability typically make plastic unpopular in this housing segment. Enter Profine, supplier of plastic frames. They profile themselves as an attractive alternative for the higher housing segment, and hope to get rid of plastic’s image as a product only for the lower segments. At the VKG plastics awards too, there is growing interest in the so-called ‘architecture segment’.

At Profine they know this requires more than producing the standard dimensions of 2.40 by 1.50 meters. And so they have produced a line of slim sliding frames, which can supposedly be used for light and tall glass facades as in designs like ours. According to Profine: “incomparable to other sliding frames: extremely large and tall: up to 2.9 meters tall and 6.5 meters wide (depending on application and colour!).”

Well… note the final comment. Because by now we know what it really means: only available for ground floor, backyard facades in the far-eastern Netherlands where costal climate is no issue! Meanwhile the frames for our project in Scheveningen will again be of good-old Reynaers aluminium, that’s for sure.
Calling this real plastic-innovation is stretching things, and unfortunately a suspicious attitude towards pretty stories remains necessary. Of course, we will continue to use plastic, for regular frames of standard dimensions. But hey, that’s nothing new.