Modern approach to classic decorative features

Written by

15 June 2021


4 min read

Traditional decorative features on buildings have, previously, been heavy, expensive and potentially dangerous in earthquakes. Modern, lightweight construction means designers can have the durable design elements they want while expediting construction and meeting budget constraints and regulations.

Architects want traditional and modern mouldings for their building designs to be lightweight, robust and beautiful in order to meet the oftentimes conflicting demands of aesthetics and safety regulations. Accumen Shapes uses proprietary techniques that deliver exactly these qualities and which help transform buildings into landmarks.

Whether addressing the transitional space between surfaces on a building, creating design elements that mask structural components, or adding relief to monolithic facades, Accumen Shapes can help take a building’s design from adequate to exceptional without the major structural allowances needed for traditional materials.

“We’re seeing a return to traditional reliefs found in neoclassical, Art Deco and postmodern approaches to design because people love them,” says Josh Mainwaring of Accumen Shapes, “and we can provide the finishing elements that add that final flourish to those designs. Our team’s technical knowledge and skillset is second to none and we’ll work to make real the architect’s ideas and vision.”

Safer, lightweight decorative moulding construction options from Accumen Shapes start with the innovative DecraShape® product—kiln-dried EPS coated in Accumen’s KickIt® plaster system—and go through to ShapeCrete®, which is a lightweight product manufactured from reinforced fibreglass cement.

“We can work with designers on the best product for their project,” points out Josh, “and we can work with them to do whatever shape they want. In fact,” he says, “our team really love a challenge and working out how to actually make the designs brought to us is a real labour of love.”

“Bring your problems to us,” he laughs. “We love solving them!”

As well as traditional mouldings, Accumen Shapes produces a range of contemporary styles to give newer buildings an architectural flourish.

Accumen Shapes: adding value to buildings

Accumen Shapes is a locally-owned business that has been creating intricate mouldings and features for thirty years now. Their unique technologies and skills have become increasingly sought after by architects looking for experienced artisans to work with and great products to realise their designs.

Over the years, Accumen Shapes has helped heritage buildings become renewed for future decades, recreating traditional decorative mouldings using their modern construction systems, helping reduce the needs, and costs, of some of the seismic strengthening, and, they’re increasingly finding architects are wanting the same elements on new buildings.

“By incorporating lightweight exterior decorative mouldings into a building’s design, architects can provide the reliefs and character found in so many great buildings and still meet modern safety regulations,” says Josh.

DecraShape is an excellent option for window trims, cornice details and other, higher level detailing in areas where the moulding is unlikely to be exposed to risk from knocks. It allows intricately detailed pieces that are still robust but also permit the creation of complex exterior detailing and are safe for high seismic zone locations. Design elements made with DecraShape are perfect for replacing features on heritage buildings needing upgrading to meet new earthquake risk codes.

ShapeCrete is the most robust of the three options and is often specified for high-use settings, such as busy public spaces and buildings.

“ShapeCrete is also a great product for residential settings where, for example, a decorative detail is located at ground level and could be prone to being knocked by people or equipment. ShapeCrete is highly impact resistant and suitable for the most hardwearing applications,” Josh continues.

FourPLUS® sits between the two, using the same construction technique as DecraShape but is coated with additional KickIt plaster to a minimum of 4mm-thick.

“It gives a higher level of strength—but still at a lower weight—and that gives architects and designers an excellent compromise between cost, weight and robustness, as well as more options to meet budgets and still make great things,” says Josh.

Accumen Shapes is a New Zealand-owned business specialising in the design and manufacture of lightweight exterior decorative mouldings. Working closely with architects and designers, Accumen’s team of artisans has a combined expertise spanning more than one hundred years in the industry.

Learn how traditional and contemporary lightweight exterior decorative mouldings can transform the look of your next project.