Extreme Zinc Saga: Conquering India

 

Our Extreme Zinc is continuing its world tour. After New Zealand, we’re off to India, a vast subcontinent on which the zinc market is developing.

In Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the fourth largest city in India, VMZINC produced the extremely luxurious facade of the Palladium Mall. This project clearly illustrates the positioning we have taken to justify the higher price of our material compared to that of local products. From the outset, we knew we had to deal with difficult issues and buildings with complex geometric configurations to offer a highly expert design service.

Material + advice = the perfect combination

What was requested for this building? Produce cladding for a double curve, concave and convex facade using small elements with varying degrees of relief enabling the creation of highly original visual effects on this prestigious entrance. Having initially opted for aluminium, the project switched to zinc. This change of material in our favour was the result of two key factors:

1.The architect loved the texture of our Pigmento Brown.

2.The fact that we provided several 1/1 scale mock-ups, i.e. life-sized, to validate the concept and format of the modules that were folded by a local transformer partner, whom we helped by optimising cuts so as to reduce off-cuts to a small percentage.

A market with strong potential: that must be approached with modesty and a collaborative spirit

I was lucky in my previous role in Sales (Director of Sales for southern Europe and distant markets) to be able to test new markets, in particular in countries with strong potential for economic development. We decided to approach India in 2009.

Not a single m² of zinc had ever been installed in this country, which is experiencing significant demographic growth. Market studies revealed huge requirements in terms of housing, public buildings and facilities. But it was necessary to test the real potential of a high end material such as zinc in local markets.

Over a one-year period, a very talented young executive was financed by the “Prince Albert Fund”1 to conduct a comprehensive market study aiming to identify partners, in particular in the installation sector. During this period, I had an opportunity myself to promote our material to local architects. Due to their cultural connection with England, where some of them studied, the latter immediately expressed their interest in our zinc, patinas and colours - especially those working in large agencies. But as with all our developments in pioneering contexts, architects naturally had questions on installation conditions and the skills of local installers, whom we had not yet trained.

This is why we first investigated the metal cladding and roofing installers’ network. Geared to large-scale projects (airports, train stations, housing or offices), these installers were already installing profiled aluminium roofing on-site (ribbed roofing) or locally manufactured composite panels.

Little by little, and in order to avoid spreading ourselves too thinly in this vast country, we selected the cities with the highest potential (Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, and Calcutta). Within these urban territories, we focused on the most influential architects and the contractors that were most reliable and most motivated to train in zinc installation.

Over a 6-month period in 2012, a local team of 10 people was created, headed up by Girish Dharashar, our local director. The project pump was gradually primed and the first installations, initially small in scale, were recorded throughout the country. To date we have worked on over two hundred, including the heliport in Delhi and Ozar airport, northeast of the city of Nashik, which is located east of Mumbai.

What motivates us to develop local solutions that are often ingenious or very cost-effective is the fact that they are being revisited and adapted by architects in Europe. We have come full circle!

In my next Extreme Zinc Post, I will tell you about the first ever VMZINC project in Sri Lanka!

What do you think of the Palladium Mall cladding? We’d be interested to hear your opinion!

 

 

Roger Baltus
Engineer - Architect
VMZINC Communication Director

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