Facades achieve a balance of form and function.

Not just a pretty face: facades do more than look good


Finding a balance between form and function is essential when designing the facade of a building.

Facades do more than act as a visual marker. Part of achieving this form/function balance is to give it more than a single use. While retrofitting a facade can dramatically reduce a building’s energy expenditure, there’s much more they can do.

The only limit to a facade’s function is imagination. In this article, we’ll look at some innovative facade designs that have fully embraced multi-functionality.

Facades that adjust to temperature

In the sweltering climate of Abu Dhabi, buildings with glass exteriors act as gigantic magnifying glasses for the sun’s intense rays.

This was the situation faced by the Al Bahar towers, designed by Aedas Architects. The solution? Sunscreens that change in response to heat. According to Abu Dhabi Media, the exterior modules are controlled by computers that react to the sun and change configuration to better shade the buildings’ residents, protecting them from the harsh temperatures.

“The way you’re seeing it now, it will probably never look like that again, in that the mashrabiya – as we call it – on the building will actually open and close as the sun moves round the building throughout the day,” said deputy chairman of architectural firm Aedas Peter Oborn, speaking to Abu Dhabi Media. ‘Mashrabiya’ is the Arabic name given to the particular style of wooden lattice screening the modules take inspiration from.

In a similar vein, Locker Group’s Atmosphere facade reduces the amount of solar radiation hitting a building’s windows while retaining air flow and vision out.

Facades that pluck pollution from the atmosphere

A hospital in Mexico City does more than heal patients inside its four walls. Outside, it improves the health of nearby residents, thanks to its unique facade that scrubs pollutants from the surrounding air. The facade is coated in a titanium dioxide layer, which when exposed to UV radiation, converts common car exhaust pollutants (such as nitrous oxides, volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide), into harmless products, according to German architectural firm Elegant Embellishments.

This single facade has the ability to remove 1,000 cars’ worth of pollution per day. According to Gizmodo, the unique shape of the facade also helps to slow down the flow of air around the building, to further heighten its efficiency at removing toxins.

Not every facade needs to employ cutting technology to improve functionality. To find out how Locker Group’s range of architectural products can help improve the energy efficiency of your building, get in touch with the team today.

How can wire mesh reduce risk in industry?

3 applications of wire mesh in risk management


Wire mesh serves many functions across different industries, thanks to its versatility and ability to custom fit any application.

Depending on the type of material used, the size of aperture or the use of woven or welded wire mesh, this product has an exhaustive range of uses, including risk management.

Below are three applications where Locker Group’s wire mesh helps reduce the risk to both businesses and employees.

Wire mesh can help make work environments safer.Wire mesh can help make work environments safer.

1. Bushfire mesh

Preventing embers from gaining access to the interior of a building is an essential fire-prevention tactic. Installing a bushfire mesh over windows, air vents or other openings can help guard a building against errant embers and radiant heat.

Regulation bushfire mesh must have a maximum aperture of 2 mm and be made from corrosion-resistant steel, according to Standards Australia. Locker Group’s stainless steel mesh can be tailored to your building’s specifications and at-risk areas.

2. Rodent mesh

In grain-growing regions of Australia, the prevention of rodents from accessing food is an ongoing battle with serious consequences. In 1993/94, a mouse plague caused a loss of $100 million in the agricultural industry through the consumption, contamination of foods and other downstream effects, according to Dr Peter Brown of Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Ecosystem Sciences.

Locker Group’s custom fit wire mesh is well suited to preventing rodents and other pest species from infiltrating valuable food reserves.

3. Guard mesh

Preventing accidents in the workplace comes down to identifying risks and ongoing upkeep in order to minimise them.

Preventing accidents in the workplace comes down to identifying risks and ongoing upkeep in order to minimise them. In 2015, there were over 500,000 workplace injury or disease reports according to Safe Work Australia, with over 100,000 serious claims. Among the most common workplace injuries were falls and getting trapped between stationary and moving objects.

For preventing workers falling through holes or openings, Safe Work Australia’s code of practise recommends using a strong material, such as wire mesh, to prevent people or objects from falling through. Locker Group’s wire mesh range can go a long way to preventing such injuries from occurring.

Safe Work Australia also advises that manufacturers should consider the working environment and implement guards to impose a physical barrier between moving parts and human contact. It also recommends that these barriers be securely fixed but also easy to remove if necessary, something that is achievable using Locker Group’s guard mesh.

To find out more about other applications of Locker Group’s wire mesh products in industry, get in touch with the team today.

Which materials are best for salt mining?

Fibre reinforced plastic in the salt mining industry


Salt is incredibly valuable. Our body needs it to survive, and it forms the backbone of many industries. In fact, the Australian government estimates there are over 14,000 uses of the stuff.

Unsurprisingly, salt mining makes up a significant portion of Australia’s nonmetallic mineral mining industry. According to Ibis World, Australian salt production has grown over the last five years to exceed 13 million tonnes in 2015-2016. Western Australia produces around half of the industry’s volume of salt, with the rest spread around Queensland and South Australia.

However, salt is a reactive mineral and a significant contributor to corrosion and weathering of materials, which can pose significant problems to infrastructure when it comes time to harvest. Selecting the right material for construction in this industry requires a creative solution: Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP).

FRP is an ideal solution for the salt mining industry.FRP is an ideal solution for the salt mining industry.

What is FRP?

FRP is a composite material made from a blend of a polymer matrix (plastic) with a reinforcing material, which in this case is fibreglass. It poses a number of distinct advantages  over other forms of grating material, depending on the application. Its primary uses are in industrial flooring, access walkways, screens, nonslip surfaces, machine guards and stair treads.

In the salt mining industry, this material’s resistance to reactivity is what sets it apart from other flooring products.

What makes FRP suitable for the salt mining industry?

In the salt mining industry, this material’s resistance to reactivity is what sets it apart from other flooring products.

FRP is unreactive to all concentrations of sodium chloride, magnesium salts, potassium salts and more at a wide range of temperatures, which makes it the perfect material for this industry.

In a harsh environment, such as the kind where salts and water can mix, the maintenance, degradation and eventual replacement of flooring materials is a significant ongoing cost. Metal products give way to corrosion and rust, while other materials degrade quickly when exposed to the high levels of UV radiation solar salt beds need to evaporate the excess water.

Not only is it highly resistant to corrosion, FRP is protected against degradation from the sun due to UV inhibitors within the material. It also has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio thanks to its singular, interwoven pattern. For these reasons and more, FRP is not only a durable, but also cost-effective industrial flooring solution for the salt mining industry.

To find out about what other industries FRP is suitable for, get in touch with the team at Locker Group today.

How much water does Australian industry use?

How are industries reducing their water consumption?


The United Nations World Water Day is held on March 22nd. Its focus: bringing to attention the importance of freshwater and its sustainable management. Each year revolves around a specific aspect of water, and this year, the theme is wastewater.

Wastewater is a result of consumption – water that has been used as part of commercial, industrial or residential processes. In general, wastewater is no longer potable or safe to introduce back into the environment, which reduces the total amount of freshwater available.

Australia is a nation that depends on its water resources. In 2014-2015, we consumed over 17,000 gigalitres (GL) across all sectors – the equivalent of 35 Sydney Harbours, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). For reference, 1 GL is equivalent to 1 billion litres.

At Locker Group, we want to celebrate the responsible use of resources in industry. So how are different industries reducing the amount of water they use?

Reducing water consumption is important for sustainability.Reducing water consumption is important for sustainability.

Conserving water in mining

According to the ABS, the mining industry consumed over 700 GL of water in 2014-2015. This is partly due to the number of vital roles water plays in the processing of minerals and the prevention of toxins entering the environment. However, this doesn’t meant that there aren’t innovative ways for mines to reduce their consumption and discharge as much as possible.

Mines can utilise nature in the form of wetlands to ‘purify’ wastewater.

Mining Facts highlights some of the active and passive ways to treat water so that it gets recycled and doesn’t go to waste. Active treatments, such as filtration or chemical treatment to remove contaminants are common methods. Passively, mines can utilise nature in the form of wetlands to ‘purify’ wastewater – filtering water to the point where it can be reincorporated into the environment. Other solutions include using bacteria to remove harmful toxins from water, allowing it to be recycled more easily, as outlined in the Australian Trade Commission’s Urban and Industrial Water report.

On the other hand, not all water used in mines is hazardous. Using something as simple as screens or grating to catch surface runoff on floors and walkways can contribute to the reduction of water used in mines.

Reducing runoff in agriculture

By far, the industry that uses the most water in Australia is agriculture. In 2014-2015, this sector used over 10,000 GL, according to the ABS. However, despite accounting for the vast majority of freshwater use (60 per cent), the agricultural industry is also leading the charge in reducing the water it consumes. Lauren Binns, Director of Environment and Agriculture Statistical Delivery and Communication, explains.

“The largest decrease in water consumption was in the agriculture industry. Ongoing dry conditions across the eastern states meant farmers used less water for irrigation, so consumption was down 10 per cent to 10,410 GL in 2014-15. This followed an 8 per cent decrease in the previous year,” said Ms Binns.

Preventing runoff from irrigation is crucial to reducing the amount of water that gets wasted.

According to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, most of the water used in agriculture goes towards the irrigation of crops. Preventing runoff from irrigation is crucial to reducing the amount of water that gets wasted. As in farming, this runoff often contains an excess of nutrients and particulates that, if introduced to rivers and streams, can contaminate fresh water supplies.

Strategies such as using screens or mesh are options to reducing matter in wastewater, whilst diverting its flow into retention ponds where it can be reused for irrigation is an effective way to curtail the total volume used.

The outlook is positive. Australia decreased its consumption of water by 7 per cent in 2014-2015, a trend supported across the majority of Australian sectors, reports the ABS.

To find out more, get in touch with the team at Locker Group today.

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