A far away view of New York City with the Empire State building prominent in the centre against a cloudy sky with the sun behind the clouds

Is Aluminium Used in Construction?

Titanic Belfast is an iconic museum clad in anodised aluminium panels. The architectural design and finish of the building evoke the scale and majesty of the ship’s hull floating through the icy waters. Is this a stand-alone example or is aluminium widely used in construction?


Architectural Innovation in Aluminium

1931 was a pivotal year for architectural innovation in aluminium. In that year, the Empire State Building was opened and this iconic Art Deco building was innovative in many ways. One of which was the extensive use of aluminium for internal structures and the spire that towered over Manhattan.

A far away view of New York City with the Empire State building prominent in the centre against a cloudy sky with the sun behind the clouds

Just a few decades before, aluminium was expensive to extract and fabricate, so was rarely used. However, new advances in processing made it possible to design and create architectural aluminium for the first time.


In the same year, Aluminaire House was exhibited in a New York exhibition. Designed by Albert Frey and Lawrence Kocher, this pre-fabricated house was presented as an example of affordable housing. The aluminium panels were lightweight to handle and easy to assemble. As such, it was possible to build an Aluminaire House in 10 days.


These two, very different, buildings showcased the versatility and strength of the metal and it inspired the wider use of aluminium in construction.


Reaching for the Sky

The next major step resulted in advancements in aluminium extrusions in the 1950s. This process made it easier and more cost-effective to produce a wide range of fittings and fixtures for commercial and residential builds.


Extruded aluminium can be formed into a variety of custom profiles and cut to desired lengths. This malleability made it possible to form frames with fewer joints than other construction materials. Coupled with being a lightweight material this made aluminium parts quick and easy to install.

A ground level photo of the Belfast Titanic building during ealry evening, lit from the base with a dark blue sky and the sun setting behind with a little orange on the horizon

Sunset over Titanic Belfast – museum, touristic attraction and monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard.

The profiles and lengths that can be achieved with extruded aluminium make it a valuable material in the design and construction of skyscrapers. So, if you enjoy scaling heights for the ultimate view of a cityscape, you may see, stand on or touch aluminium parts on your way up.


Sustainable Skyscraper

A fantastic example of a skyscraper that fully embraced aluminium as a construction material is the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt. This steel, concrete and aluminium office block was Europe’s tallest building for many years. And, aluminium extrusions and panel cladding provide a sleek, modern façade.

The top section of the Commerzbank Tower against a clear, dark blue sky

Completed in 1997, this Foster & Partners skyscraper was ahead of its time. It features many principles which now form part of the 2025 Future Homes Standard. Firstly, over 50% of the aluminium used was recycled, making it a sustainable construction material. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable without any compromise on performance. Secondly, aluminium aided the thermal performance, energy-saving technology and natural ventilation of the building. These ensure the building is efficient to run.


Aluminium Extrusions for Commercial & Residential Buildings

Aluminium has many attributes that ensure it is now widely used in commercial and residential buildings. Its great thermal and acoustic properties, durability and corrosion resistance make it suitable for interior and exterior applications.


To give a few examples, our team are currently extruding, fabricating and assembling aluminium for internal office partitioning and shower enclosures. Our prefabricated aluminium parts are quick and easy to install, which is an asset when retrofitting an office block or putting bathrooms into newly built properties.


In addition, the growing interest in renewables has resulted in us creating aluminium frames for solar panels. As a lightweight, rust-resistant metal, aluminium is a practical solution for solar roof panels. And, if you enjoy growing your own, you may already have an aluminium construction in your garden; a greenhouse.


Other common uses of aluminium in construction include lighting and cable management, ventilation systems, balconies and balustrades. In short, if you need a length of aluminium, shaped to a uniform profile, our aluminium extrusions offer a practical solution. What’s more, we offer a range of aluminium finishes, including colour-matched powder coating.

If you require aluminium extrusion and profile cutting services for commercial or residential new builds or refits, get in touch to discuss your specifications and designs. Call us on 01296 431292 or email sales@salesmade.co.uk.


On a final note, if you are heading to the Farnborough International Air Show in July, take a look at the terminal building on the airfield. This stylish aluminium construction includes viewing stands, lounges and a tower. The entire building weighs 350 tonnes, which is less than some of the planes that land on the runway!