Putting a Silver Face On Microsoft’s ‘Green’ HQ

James Ormerod, managing director of Aliva UK explains why aluminium was the perfect cladding material for Microsoft Corporation’s major new building in Dublin.

When our technical team designed a shimmering aluminium façade for Microsoft Corporation’s new Irish headquarters it put the finishing touch to a project that has environmental considerations at its heart.


We supplied 9,300 sqm of anodised aluminium cladding from our Alucovering range for the landmark project, set amidst woods at the back of Leopardstown race course. The ‘random’ pattern uses four different shades of silver aluminium, anodising with brushed and polished finishes for the five-storey 35,000sqm campus in a contract worth £1.4m.

Detailed design

Bam Construct UK awarded the contract for the work to Gunn Lennon Facades (GLF) who selected our product after careful review with RKD Architects. We worked on a detailed design with GLF to ensure its system could be adapted to meet specific project requirements.

The new HQ brings all 1,200 of Microsoft’s employees in Ireland under one roof for the first time. It is the company’s first data centre outside the US, and home to European and global teams.

The environmental aspects of the building were considered throughout the design by RKD Architects. For example, rainwater collected from the roof is used throughout the building.

Spices and other foodstuffs are grown for the building’s restaurants, and bee hives on the roof will eventually yield honey to add to the ‘homegrown’ larder. The campus also features a running and walking trail around the perimeter. Employees can enjoy a stunning view from Dublin Bay to the mountains from the building’s rooftop terraces.

Important green credentials

Among the important green credentials is the façade: the entire building is wrapped in aluminium, one of the most environmentally friendly materials around, and used in cladding for over 100 years.

Aluminium cladding can help insulate, acting as a thermal ‘skin’. This isn’t just true for new buildings; old buildings can be made more energy efficient too. Take the Torenflat (high-rise apartment block) in Zeist, Netherlands.

Ten years ago, a renovation project enclosed the entire building in a ‘warm jacket’ of fully prefabricated aluminium façade units.  The energy performance was improved by three categories according to the Dutch building energy labelling system.

Aluminium is also a truly sustainable material. It can be completely recycled and turned into other aluminium products. In fact, the Council for Aluminium in Building says that 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use and recycling rates for architectural aluminium are between 92%-98%.

Safe, low maintenance material

The material is also low maintenance and safe. Apart from periodic cleaning for aesthetic reasons, aluminium cladding needs no maintenance, which translates into a cost and ecological advantage over the lifetime of the product, particularly for a project the size of Microsoft Dublin. Aluminium also does not burn and is therefore classified as a non-combustible construction material (European Fire Class A1).

We were delighted to use our team’s considerable design skills to bear on this landmark project. The architect and specialist installers were looking for the ‘wow’ factor for the building – and we feel we have delivered a façade that lives up to Microsoft’s huge global brand status.

Our clients constantly push Aliva’s design and consultancy teams to create bespoke, inventive aluminium cladding solutions. We are continuously researching and developing novel applications for the use of aluminium in facades. With its flexibility and its chameleon ability to transform buildings, aluminium’s possibilities are only limited by our imagination.