My Top 5 Solutions to Protect the Brighton i360 Facade

The i360 vertical pier is a revolutionary structure, design and attraction for Brighton & Hove. A 162m vertical façade constructed around a 980 tonne steel frame and finished externally with an anodised aluminum cladding façade. It's thought (or should I say hoped) that the anodised element will withstand the sea salts and wind.

The pier was designed by architects David Marks & Julia Barfield, designers and architects of the London Eye, and the most popular paid attraction in the UK.

From a façade design perspective it's an amazing feat, the engineering solutions and approach to its construction is set to create a new icon for one of England's most popular seaside towns. The i360 vertical pier will house the world's tallest moving observation tower at 138m, it will be the tallest and slimmest vertical façade tower in the world.

With such an iconic structure and investment, I wonder how much time or energy has been applied to proactively protecting the façade skin and to enhancing its predicted lifespan and condition beyond the architects 'and investors' expectations?

So how can the i360 façade be protected to enhance the ROI and lifespan of the building?

Here are my top 5 solutions:

1) Do not take for granted that the anodised cladding will withstand the weather conditions. Real exposure and localized conditions will deliver varied weather patterns throughout. Previous test trials should only be used a guideline of façade and curtain wall weathering.

2) Façade performance can only be optimized within a proactive and façade condition inspection framework. Manage the building envelope holistically, do not just clean the glass so that 'looks' clean. Regular façade inspection activity will help build a real catalog of information related to the weather weathering or corrosion. Proactive maintenance will out-perform any ad hoc inspections and limit expensive repairs. This can be achieved through specific routes of access, drones or rope access.

3) Regularly wash down the anodised cladding façade to remove the accumulation of salts within a proactive facade management program. Do not allow the salts to build, it's likely they could break the coating over a period of time, especially during summer months under the heat of the sun.

4) Apply a specialist hydrophobic protective coating to the anodised aluminum cladding façade which will form a robust barrier and reduce the rate at which the salts can adhere to the façade skin. The coating will also protect the aluminum cladding from salts, sea spray, organic build up and UV damage. Any protective coating applied during the construction phase is likely to weather, so a regular application will help protect the façade performance and aesthetic condition.

5) This is about the context of façade protection rather than the content . By considering the context it generally helps give more value and meaning to a wider variety of people involved within the project and helps create a common ground for façade investment protection. The context for i360 could be "visitor experience, safety, façade performance & ROI".