Panel challenges brick’s building supremacy

PANELISED building technology is becoming increasingly popular in the construction of commercial and residential properties, says Building Technologies Australia director Matt Hornibrook.

Mr Hornibrook said the Styrocon panel was invented in the early 1970s by Perth architect Professor Julius Elischer.

Styrocon is a sandwich panel consisting of two fibre cement sheets encasing a lightweight cement core.

The panel comes in either 50 millimetre or 75mm thicknesses and uses a tongue and groove system to fit together.

When erected, the panel can withstand considerable seismic activity.

Mr Hornibrook said, when a cyclone in northern India

flattened the landscape with winds of up to 200km per hour, Styrocon structures were the only buildings left standing.

He said the product was now considered the number one lightweight building panel in the world.

“The panel shares the same qualities as double brick structures,” Mr Hornibrook said.

He said Styrocon offered design flexibility, allowing for corrections or alterations on site.

“Other materials aren’t as elastic and changes to original design can be costly,” he said.

“The speed of erection is another very attractive advantage of Styrocon.

“It eliminates the wet trades such as brickies. We’ve seen a two-storey house go up in five days once the product is on site.”

Mr Hornibrook said, while the product was becoming popular for residential properties and the exterior of commercial buildings, the most popular use was for mines, farm structures and office partitioning.

He said it was ideal for remote area housing and schools, facades, sound barriers, floors and ceilings.

“We used it on a commercial building recently and saved the developers $100,000 on internal walls,” he said.

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