JEC Innovation Award

3B-the fibreglass company helps to create eye-catching design for new Sheraton Hotel

Battice, Belgium – May 28, 2010 – Pultruded reinforced composites using glass fibres from 3B have been used to create a new building with a unique contemporary design. In this application the use of the fibreglass composite has facilitated a more efficient installation whilst the lower weight/volume ratio has reduced manual handling issues.

The new Sheraton Hotel at Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy, which is set to open in July 2010, is a highly contemporary building. This is reflected in its design as well as the technologies that were applied and the materials that were selected for its construction. Designed by the architects King Roselli Architetti of Rome, the new building was commissioned in 2006, and constructed by Gruppo Degennaro, Bari, at a cost of approximately euro 67 million.

The overall structure is 450 metres wide and 14 metres high. It has 3 floors which contain offices, 420 rooms, cafés and restaurants, and a 2000m2 Conference Centre. Architect Riccardo Roselli says: « This hotel concept is based on the idea of a large folding skin wrapping the modules containing the rooms. All the installations are hidden beneath the cover and are able to breathe through various apertures. Overall, the structure is more like a design object than a building. »

A key feature of the design is the overall shape. This was achieved by applying an outer skin made from a glassfibre reinforced composite. The material was processed in Italy by « Progettazione Costruzione Ricerca » (P.C.R. Srl), using a pultrusion process. This means that thermoset profiles are extruded pulling 3B reinforced fibres through a resin. The skin has a quartz finish, made with P.C.R.’s QflexTM technology and is water-repellent. The outside surface is clad in a white-grey film.

Hugues Jacquemin, Chief Executive Officer of 3B says: « Increasingly, non-corrosive fibreglass is used in metal replacement applications such as these, where they bring a number of key benefits. These include greater design freedom and lighter weight. Architects and designers looking for innovative solutions can use our materials to create stunning and durable surfaces in a wide range of shapes, whilst installers value the lighter weight, which facilitates faster – and easier – installation. »

Mr. Jacquemin adds: « As a leading fibreglass developer and supplier, we are committed to future development and innovation in the reinforced plastics industry. Working with P.C.R., we were able to deliver the right materials for this specific application. »

King Roselli selected the glass fibre reinforced material after comparison with other cladding materials, liquid membranes and polycarbonate. Riccardo Roselli: « Whilst some of these materials were suitable for thermoforming, they offered limited bonding solutions, and did not meet all performance requirements. Sprayed liquid membranes made covering the whole building possible, however, the building was simply too large for this solution to work successfully. »

In addition to its light weight, the material reinforced with 3B glass fibres has excellent mechanical properties compared to metal. It also offers corrosion resistance as well as electrical and thermal insulation. The material was produced in strips of 20 metres long and 1 metre wide. These are extremely light and can easily be handled on a busy construction site.

Riccardo Roselli concludes: « Overall, the cost of the installed cladding is competitively priced.. I am sure this material has great potential. »