Answers from Rebecca Cope, marketing manager at leading aluminium systems company Reynaers.

What do you perceive to be the current trends in architectural glazing?

We regularly send out detailed surveys and questionnaires to our architect clients to make sure that we are ahead of the game when it comes to new trends. We have noticed a gradual but steady increase in interest over the past five years in larger glazed areas with slimmer frames, both in domestic and commercial UK markets. Architects tell us that improved thermal performance also continues to be key in the buildings they are designing.

Our latest research project is a new white paper, The View – Design Transformed. We surveyed more than 100 architectural professionals to gain a view of technology’s impact on work practices, client relationships and building design. We found that only 44% of respondents regularly use building information modelling (BIM) at any level. For architects who are inexperienced with BIM, the main issues identified include cost of integration, time required to learn and a lack of training.

Which of your newest technologies are you most excited about and why?

We’ve invested heavily into our Virtual Reality (VR) offering. We don’t believe that putting pen to paper will be replaced entirely, but computer-aided design (CAD) is now a normal part of most architects’ working lives. The spread of building information modelling (BIM) has been part of this evolution, with VR taking things one step further. The technology is in its early stages as a means of further developing design practices and allowing stakeholders to experience a building before the plans have even been finalised.

Already ahead of this trend, Reynaers has created a virtual reality facility, Avalon, at our Belgian headquarters to showcase what the immersive technology can do. Using the facility, early concepts can be mapped out and 3D models viewed up close to explore technical issues, design variants and user experiences. This is not only beneficial to firms wanting to impress clients with a cutting-edge service, it’s also a practical process that combines a series of complex files in order to give a holistic understanding of a project across all levels.

Architects can download the white paper for free here and learn more about how Reynaers is embracing VR here

Future trends and predictions. What is your focus in terms of short- and long-term product design and R&D?

As well as a tech focus we have also invested in R&D for our multi-level façades. Feedback from architects say that it is developments like these that are enabling them to design more creative façades, moving away from the traditional grid format to more experimental shapes and designs. Multi-level façades allow the aluminium frames to run diagonally on both the horizontal and the vertical without comprimising drainage. 

How do you see the architectural glazing market changing over the next five-to-ten years?

Passivhaus was cited by architects as a trend that clients would increasingly require in the long-term. Others mentioned a move to triple glazing for superior thermal insulation, more detailed analysis of building envelope performance, plus the need for higher thermal efficiency.

Off-site manufacture was noted as a coming trend by some architects, with one saying “more prefabricated off-site construction is anticipated, for higher precision and quality – as well as quicker construction programmes”.