Sealing and Bonding beyond the expected

Sealing the Future Against Water and Fire

One of the tallest buildings in Colombia is the formidable 200-meter-high Atrio North Tower, which won the 2021 award for Structures in Extreme Conditions by the Institution of Structural Engineers (ISE).

That’s because the building – deemed “The heart of Bogotá” – is situated along the Ring of Fire, the horseshoe-shaped Pacific Ocean belt where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. The city of Bogotá is seismically very active, and therefore the tower required advanced construction products, such as Sika’s joint sealing and bonding.

Commenting on the North Tower, the judge from the ISE said:

"The structure represents a technological advancement in the field of composite high-rise construction, combining state-of-the-art steel construction with local concrete practice to deliver innovation in a highly seismic site. A remarkable all-round combination of structural engineering design expertise, elegant detailing, and value in a very challenging location."
City view with Atrio North Tower in Columbia
View over Atrio North Tower in Columbia

Advancing Urban Landscape

The Torres Atrio is a 250,000-meter square, USD 300 million complex with two mixed-use towers (North and South) that contain shops, offices, public services, a hotel, five parking basements and a large pedestrian area through which 72,000 per day can visit.

The towers are made of concrete and steel with exposed metallic elements, and a high-tech DVH (Double Glazed Hermetic) glass façade. Both are designed with a volumetric diagonal top, which echoes the eastern hills of Bogotá. Atrio is designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the London practice led by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Lord Richard Rogers. Rogers is a champion of urban life and believes in the potential of the city to be a catalyst for social change. With Atrio, the architect sought to mix public and private worlds to facilitate inclusivity. The height and modernity of the towers have advanced Bogotá's urban landscape, putting it in league with the world's major cities.

The Torres Atrio website calls the project, “A vision of the future of Colombia and Bogotá. It is a symbol of hope and confidence and captures the excitement of new opportunities. The time has come to build buildings and spaces that capture the energy of the people. Colombia is entering a new era and Atrio will be the symbol of this era.”

Sealing and Bonding

Atrio North Tower in Columbia

The joints are normally the weakest link in a building’s structure. Only high-quality joint sealants will keep buildings intact for its lifetime. The Atrio project required many Sika sealing products, including the Sika membrane system, the double-glazing system (DVH), the climate seal, and seal adhesive LED lighting on the edges of the building. The engineers also used Sika’s finishing products like Sikafloor®, as well as waterproofing products, Sarnafil® green roof repair mortars, and steel protection.

Sika offers a wide range of sealing and bonding technologies. Typical applications include the sealing of joints between facade elements to weatherproof buildings, the bonding of wood floors to reduce noise, the sealing of joints in airport aprons, and fire stopping.

High-performance sealants make buildings more durable and sustainable. Excellent insulation means that less energy is needed for heating and cooling, as well as maintenance costs. Sealants typically make up approximately 1% of the cost of a large building project. In the case of sealant failure, however, the refurbishment costs are many times that of the initial installation – providing yet another example where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Ultimately, earthquakes-prone cities like Bogotá remind us of the power of the earth and the natural limitations of human beings. We can’t prevent earthquakes or volcano eruptions, but we can do everything we can to build a solid foundation. Megatrends like urbanization and population growth are fueling demand for more modern, and resource-efficient buildings. Investing in high-quality, durable building products is one of the best ways to thrive despite any disruptive events. With the help of high-quality sealing and bonding agents, we can build greener, higher and in more extreme conditions.

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