Pendock’s Technical Project Manager, Gavin Byram, discusses how the company’s specialist casing and enclosure solutions can add performance and aesthetic value to retail projects with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw.
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Laminate-faced plywood column casings
The retail sector has had a tough time of late, largely due to the physical restrictions imposed on consumers by the pandemic and the continuing rise of online shopping. Post-lockdown, many people have rediscovered the simple joy of visiting the shops, whether this be the local high street, a mall, or out-of-town retail park. As the industry gets back on its feet and looks to the future, attention will inevitably turn to the next generation of retail outlets aimed at further enticing consumers out of their homes and away from their screens.
Pendock has long been the go-to casing and enclosure specialist when it comes to retail design and shop fitting. On offer is a huge array of standard and bespoke products in a wide range of materials, finishes and sizes. So, which of the company’s brands are most appropriate for retail environments, what advantages do the products within those brands provide, and what should architects pay particular attention to in terms of the specification process? Pendock’s Technical Project Manager, Gavin Byram, has more than 20 years of experience in retail solutions, so is ideally equipped to discuss these questions and more with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw.
Which Pendock brands are commonly used on retail projects, and what are their main features and benefits?
The Radius and Linea brands are ideally suited to retail schemes and are frequently specified on new build, as well as refurbishment projects. Radius covers both internal and external column casings, while Linea comprises nine different types of building lining and architectural finishing products, from interior pilasters and bulkheads to external fascias and soffits.
GRG pilasters with low-level metal skirting for added durability
Products from both brands can be specified in a huge variety of different colours, making it relatively straightforward to satisfy corporate branding requirements. This also gives specifiers and clients greater design freedom, when choosing whether casings or enclosures should contrast or integrate with their surroundings.
Perhaps most importantly, Radius and Linea products are available in a wide range of materials, including paint grade plywood, laminate-faced plywood, GRG and GRP, as well as stainless steel and aluminium. This makes it easier for specifiers to select the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions for their projects, based on factors including, location, size and shape alongside footfall levels and durability requirements.
For example, GRG column casings are well suited to the performance and aesthetic needs of automotive retail, but not for use in supermarkets, where high footfall from shoppers would dictate the use of tougher materials and finishes, such as metal GRP or durable laminates.
A particular benefit of Radius column casings is their ability to solve multiple issues. When concealing structural supports, the interior space they create is regularly used to accommodate pipework, data services and electrical cabling.
Radius column casings incorporating mirrors
As a result, casing surfaces are often used as a ready-made platform for mounting cameras, electrical sockets and LED display screens, as well as mirrors, signage and promotional boards. Also, the preformed and prefinished nature of both Radius and Linea products can save time and cost on site, as well as ensuring the consistency of quality and appearance is maintained.
Which Radius products tend to be specified and why?
While Pendock can supply column casings in many different shapes and sizes, circular sections tend to be favoured for aesthetic and ergonomic reasons. In terms of material selection, plywood products with a laminate facing are a common choice across a wide range of interior retail applications. This is partly due to the fact that we offer a large number of standard sizes ‘off-the peg’, so to speak, which can be specified with a range of durable and easy to maintain laminate finishes.
We use five different laminate suppliers, so the choice of colour and design is almost limitless and the same benefits also apply to our square and rectangular laminate finished plywood casings. Overall, this makes them easy to specify and more cost effective than the more ‘couture’ metal casings, which we bespoke manufacture to the dimensions and requirements of individual projects.
Mirror finish metal column casing – luxury bar and food retail
For shopping malls and supermarkets, it is advisable to specify a more durable and low maintenance surface finish on the lower part of the column casing, such as stainless steel, to provide additional resistance to scuffing and damage. Extra impact protection can also be specified where shopping trolleys are used extensively.
Where column casings are required for external applications, such as store fronts or as a consistent design feature on retail park units, polyester powder coated (PPC) metal column casings and GRP are often specified as both provide excellent protection from the elements and increased durability. They also offer greater longevity, lower maintenance and can be stacked to reach extended heights. A further benefit of metal and GRP casings is that they can both be produced to bespoke shapes and forms, such as cones, ellipses, hexagons and domes in the case of GRP
How do costs differ when specifying and using different materials?
In general, there are two key criteria that affect costs in relation to material choice. First is the material’s inherent durability and secondly is the way it is manufactured. GRG casings and unfinished plywood are typically at the lower end of the cost spectrum. They are usually specified from our standard size range and are designed primarily for decorative applications with minimal risk of damage.
Radius range, circular laminated plywood column casing
Laminated ply casings are the next in the scale as they are considerably more durable than painted plywood or GRG casings, but are still usually specified from our standard size range, so the increase in cost is more than offset, by the durability and extended product life of the laminate finish.
Where even greater durability is required or a design demands a non-standard size or shape, then these require the use of a bespoke casing manufactured to meet the specific requirements of an individual project. This would mean that the column casing would be manufactured from fabricated metal or moulded GRP.
While they both have a higher cost than the other material options, they also possess the highest level of durability, as well providing the option of specifying a unique casing solution dedicated to an individual project. This allows architects and specifiers almost unrestricted design freedom.
Which Linea brand products tend to be specified and why?
Pilasters are a common feature in shopping malls and are fitted against the wall between individual shops to provide consistent vertical framing to shop fronts, as well as creating a visual division between retail units.
GRG pilasters at Skelton Lakes motorway services, Leeds
Pilasters can be manufactured from a range of materials and this is usually influenced by the level of traffic and the mall’s visual design scheme. In situations where they’re not subjected to the same level of traffic or risk of damage as casings within a shop, high durability can be less of an issue.
In these cases, laminated plywood and GRG pilasters are a popular choice and can be designed to contrast or blend in with their surroundings depending on the choice of finish. Wood grain effect laminate finishes, such as those used at a Huddersfield shopping mall, are an example of how the finish choice can have a striking effect. However, where very high traffic volumes are present or where an extended product life is essential, we have even manufactured pilasters from compact laminate with a decorative facing.
Wood finish laminated pilasters – Huddersfield
High level bulkheads are often specified in GRG or GRP. Both materials are produced by forming within a mould, which increases design flexibility, reduces weight, and makes it easier to achieve a consistent finish and maintain a project’s aesthetics. For projects where bespoke bulkhead designs are required an allowance of 2-3 weeks should be made to produce the mould in addition to the casing manufacturing time.
GRP bulkheads are supplied with a smooth gel-coat finish, which can be RAL coloured to complement the surrounding décor and can also be used to convey a store’s brand identity or colourway. GRG products are site decorated.
High-level GRP bulkhead from the Linea range
Soffits and ceiling rafts are another popular choice for retail projects and are often designed to complement the surrounding column casings or integrate with the store’s interior design scheme. Currently, there is a movement away from continuous suspended ceilings to the use of localised ceiling rafts or islands, which denote specific zones. In common with bulkheads, material toughness is not a priority, so GRG, GRP and laminated plywood products are commonly specified. Laminated plywood is cost-effective and perfect for making simple shapes, whereas GRG and GRP are ideally suited to achieving more complex forms and typically have a higher cost due to the moulding processes involved in the manufacture of bespoke designs.
How should architects approach the specification process when it comes to using Radius and Linea products?
We encourage specifiers to seek early engagement with us to ensure key issues, such as budget, product application and available options can be fully understood, as it’s important to establish exactly where and how the products are being used.
Radius, angled laminated plywood casings – automotive retail
For example, a high-traffic application might also require column casings located in a low-traffic area within the same building, such as next to curtain walling, which allows a different design approach to be taken if required. Durability is a one of the most important requirements for retail projects and has a big influence on material choice.
Specifiers can also access NBS specification clauses and more than 200 PDF and DWG format drawings via the Pendock website, as well as supplying material samples and assistance with a broad range of technical questions. Once a project goes live, we can undertake site surveys, provide project management services and offer technical assistance for installers. As these items can be considered as ‘specialist’ we also offer full supply & fit packages if this is the preferred procurement route.
Overall, the company has decades of experience and a wealth of specialist knowledge that can help architects streamline the specification process and achieve great results on site.
For more information on Pendock’s products and services please call 01952 580590, email or visit the website.