Architectural precast concrete has been used as cladding on buildings since the 1920s and has become increasingly popular since the 1950s recently the range of products has broadened as manufacturers have incorporated new insulating and anchoring methods as well as rainscreen technology. Current panel types include conventional, with and without insulation, and insulated sandwich, with and without drainage. A range of design esthetics can be achieved because of the variety of shapes and finishes that are available. Various materials may be cast on the face of panels to supplement the colours and textures attainable with exposed aggregate finishes. Natural stone and clay masonry have been attached to precast panels to provide an additional choice of exterior or interior finish.
Panels are fabricated under controlled factory conditions to exacting tolerances and Lafarge is now producing thinner panels with simplified connections. Composite panels with punched windows provide the entire wall assembly from a single source. Year-round construction is possible with panels that are quickly erected at the site, providing the opportunity to rapidly enclose a building and speed up construction.
Lafarge architectural precast systems are easy to install but it is important to consider the overall requirements of the building envelope during design and construction. Understanding how architectural precast concrete can be used as an integral part of the building envelope enables designers to make appropriate design choices.
Lafarge precast wall systems are ideal for warehouses, manufacturing plants, schools, retail, office buildings, recreational facilities, hotels/motels, retirement residences and virtually any other architectural application that calls for strength, beauty and "fast track" construction.