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ARCHITECTURE: Metal finishes
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Metal finishes

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      “建筑是无声的诗歌,建筑是无声的音乐”。建筑承载着历史的记忆伫立至今,谱写着时代变化的篇章。今天的建筑不仅挑战着新的楼宇高度,而且风格多样。金属作为其中一种建筑材料,不止作为钢筋挑起大梁,更逐渐广泛应用于建筑外墙。将金属用于建筑并不是今天才有的新潮事,中国古代建筑中也有少量金属建筑,如“史记索隐”中称:“石室金匮,皆为国家藏书之处”。古代金属建筑以铜为主,著名的铜建筑实例有北京颐和园宝云阁,湖北武当山金殿和昆明太和宫金殿。

      随着时代的发展,金属在建筑材料衔接中起到了重要作用。例如玻璃幕墙之间的金属框架,预制建筑中使用的金属梁或网。金属从外观上给建筑带去了精致与优雅的美感,在实现减轻自重的优势下还兼顾了坚固性,一举多得;其中,在轻便这一优点上,铝板金属外墙的优势非常突出。金属外墙还可以根据建筑设计需要来变化色泽和光泽度,在某些情况下还可以进行不同形状的组合与切割,以实现很多设计师理想的造型,使建筑侧面看起来具有立体视觉效果、整体感好。除此之外,金属外墙还能通过不同密度与造型起到调节光线、为建筑节能的作用。

      在当代,将金属运用于外墙立面的成功案例并不鲜见。由钢铁外墙铸就的新加坡艺术科学博物馆、采用金属扩张网做立面的丹麦奥胡斯市的Dokk1图书馆以及使用具有石材质感的铸铝板的武汉万林艺术馆等等著名建筑都是集优美与实用等多优点于一体的成功建筑案例。

HongKongLayovers 139Modern architecture has been significantly influenced by development of metal solutions, both structurally and as finishes. In this article we will go through a series of contemporary interpretations of metal finishes, which are some of the most popular and technologically advanced methods available nowadays.

BT 201710 ARCHITICURE 03Though metal finishes have also been used traditionally – see for example European baroque copper roofs – it is only in contemporary times that their use for vertical enclosure has become increasingly popular. Ranging in use from enclosing industrial buildings to modern state of the art parametric facades, metal has proved to be a versatile finishing material which lends itself to use in some of the most interesting technological facade details. And it can also be molded as per the free will of the designer.

BT 201710 ARCHITICURE 02We have already seen quite often that metal is used for technical details in a wide variety of enclosing envelopes together with other materials such as glass, wood etc., where links, structure and details of the façade are also made predominantly of metal. In these cases, metal brings a technological plus to these facades, a feeling of refinement and even technical elegance, long being recognized and appreciated for its way of complementing other materials. The rational and technical aspects of these uses of metal suggest clarity, organization, order and logic. In this way, even when it is not the main material of the visual composition of a façade, metal conveys it a specific character, furthering its beauty because, as one would say, the devil is in the details. Also, it is understood by all professionals that the quality and technical refinement of these details really makes the difference between a normal façade and an architectural masterpiece.
 

expanded metal mesh facade claddingComing to the scenario where metal has been used as the dominant envelope material, we can observe that usually it is employed in regular shaped, mass-produced tiles in a fairly wide array of size and form. The idea is for them to have as low a weight as possible, meaning a narrow cross section and the use of light metals or alloys, such as aluminum. Also, the texture, colour, shininess and opacity of metal screens can vary significantly from reflective to opaque and from a smooth surface to a rough texture. Colours vary depending on the chosen metal and its finishing, from silvery to grey, but also black, green, rusty brown or golden. In some cases metal tiles can be pierced or have different shapes cut out, thus being able to filter the sun and create plays of light and shadow.
 

In some cases, the structure of the façade is behind the envelope, hidden from sight, leading to a more or less monolithic appearance. Though as is the case with metal, the joining lines of different tiles will be visible most of the times, a pattern which brings the perception of a large enclosed volume closer to the human scale. At other times, the structure of the façade is visible in between the metal tiles’ case in which it comes into play in creating a pattern on the façade, thus complementing the planar metallic slabs. In this case, the technological aspects also come into play as they will more often than not increase the general aesthetic value of the envelopes composition when attention is given to details. There are even examples of the metal structure of the façade being in front of the metal envelope, which emphasizes the structural and technical aspects of the building even more.
 

Another application of the metal envelope is that it can contain dynamic systems which allow the façade tiles to shift their position, playing also the role of movable shutters over a glass façade. Thus, in different times of the day or of the year, they adjust their position to gain the optimal amount of natural light inside the building and to optimize the heating or cooling of the interior.

BT 201710 ARCHITICURE 04A special use of metal tiles in a façade can be seen also in parametric, free form structures, which use custom made tiles with double curvature to enclose the building. Thus lightweight metal or alloys are often used for these scenarios, generating a dynamic, curved shape, similar to the aerodynamic form that metal can take in automobile or airplane design. These structures impress both through their nonconformist volume and through the technology employed to materialize the envelope.

P1030665Last but not least, metal is used sometimes in a very poetical manner, reminding us of its natural roots. For example, some of the jewels of architecture use copper for façade elements which changes its color while aging. Or, in other examples, a different metal is just left untreated so it can become rusty over time. Both these methods give the façade a unique character, changing with time, reflecting the passing of years through its envelope. This is a modern, metallic reflection of nature and time, which shows a possibility for modern technology to blend in with the natural environment.

bc40ef6e5bd66aeb10e936cc8518a2ddThus, metal finishes are very versatile in aspect, structural solution and meaning, lending themselves to a wide area of enclosures from offices and museums to a detail of your homes façade, filtering light or rusting over time.
 

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