This week's lunch seminar was on rain screen systems, hosted by Abet Laminate, an Italian company that makes phenolic panels. Translation? A rain screen is a sort of outer face that interrupts driving rain and "skins" a building, but is not the ultimate water-proof layer... it's similar to tents with a separate rain fly. Air movement between the layers helps handle rain penetration, water vapor movement and condensation, and can shade the interior from solar heat gain.
image of U.S. Army tent in Iraq (with rain-fly roof) courtesy of wikipedia
Phenolic panels are essentially the big brother to the plastic laminate sheets used as kitchen counters - much thicker and stronger and just as hospitable to color and pattern.
image of rain screen building with phenolic panels courtesy of Abet Laminate
It's kind of fun to see the same principals being used in this rain-screen building - so much more colorfully!