Having recently visited UK Construction Week 2019 at the NEC, I was curious to see how a continental building industry trade show looked at this current time, in the current economic climate, so where better to go than Batimat in Paris.
First observation was the contrast in scale compared to British events that I’ve previously visited. This was particularly apparent being only a few weeks since UKCW, which seemed much smaller than in recent years and perhaps looked like the UK building industry has once again fallen out of love with exhibitions – let’s hope not.
There were plenty of familiar international building product brands on show at Batimat. From the fenestration sector, for example, the aluminium systems manufacturers had a really strong presence, including Schüco, Wicona, Technal and Raynaers, as well as ALUK. The hardware brands familiar to the UK market were less well represented, with SFS being one of the only recognisable manufacturers, although they are not as high profile in the UK fenestration sector as they once were.
And it was the aluminium systems companies who made the most dramatic impact from a visual perspective. Several companies were keen to show their ability to manufacture enormous sliding doors. One of the most impressive was Secco, who were showcasing their EBE Zero Gravity door which must have been 6m high and opening effortlessly. Another was the stunning curved sliding door by Portuguese systems manufacturer Hyline, weighing 1000kg with a 6m arc – although the distortion on the glass was a little strange.
Schüco had one of the largest stands in the show, which was fitting for such a highly respected and renowned brand. Interestingly, one product range that was attracting attention didn’t involve glass – it was the FACID textile façade.
Beyond doors, windows and glazing, the opportunities for façade materials on display was very impressive. Most notably, German brand RECKLI were getting attention for their innovative forms for concrete façade panels, enabling really interesting surface designs to be achieved. And then there was Portuguese firm MONINHAS ALUMINIOS, with a relatively simple but striking wall featuring numerous different façade blocks that offer new possibilities for light transmission, colour and form.
So, what is the main thing to take away from Batimat? Probably that our continental European neighbours are far more enthusiastic about trade exhibitions. Whether you think that is a good thing or bad, there has to be a mechanism for the building industry to share innovation, new ideas and foster a culture of positivity and forward-thinking. Personally speaking, trade exhibitions still fulfil that function, especially when they are as busy and multi-dimensional as Batimat.