Zinc is soaring to new heights!
The destruction of the World Trade Centre’s twin towers in New York in 2001 had such a effect on people that it led to numerous tall building projects throughout the world being called into question. But the recurrent penury of land in large cities, the desire of suburban dwellers to decrease their commute by living closer to the city centre, technical progress and the quality of design and construction of continuous curtain walls and unitized walls have given tremendous impetus to the construction of urban tower blocks.
Whether residential or commercial, these towers are sprouting up (again) and their architecture is becoming more complex and elaborate as their designers increasingly aim for greater visual and environmental integration. In this context, although aluminium and glass - which were omnipresent on the facades of the 1980s and 1990’s – remain the majority, they have had to adapt and leave room for other materials. So zinc is slowly but surely building up an original image for the cladding of these new buildings and is breaking new ground with the numerous advantages it offers.
108 Arch Street, Philadelphia (USA) – Architect: Kyu Sung Woo Architect
Installer: Ipswich Bay Glass Company – Technique: QUARTZ-ZINC Cassettes
Technique: VMZ Interlocking panel in QUARTZ-ZINC
VMZINC for its style
Disappointed and weary of shiny or reflective facades that are now old fashioned, architects and their clients have turned towards more “human” materials characterised by the slow evolution of their aspect over time (Wood, Terracotta, Zinc….). The mattness of zinc, the colours available in shades of grey (QUARTZ-ZINC and ANTHRA-ZINC in particular) or the colours in the PIGMENTO range, have all convinced designers of the pertinence of the material, especially in polluted urban contexts (visual and atmospheric pollution).
Forms have also become more complex, with plays on raised and hollow volumes, introducing cladding of strips and undersides, where noble metals excel!
Combined with other materials, with which it blends perfectly (stainless steel, glass, stone, terracotta, concrete….) zinc adds a touch of rarity and originality.
Its mechanic properties make it possible to create curved facades. Its malleability means it can take on a slightly corrugated, or even creased, aspect on request. But when perfect flatness is required, for example to create panels or large cassettes, zinc - when used in its composite form or stiffened by a beehive structure – is the perfect material.
Architect: YELLOWSTONE – Pierre John
Installer: ME CONSTRUCT – Technique: VMZ interlocking panel in QUARTZ-ZINC
VMZINC for its lightness and resilience
Zinc is usually installed on wall-mounted timber or metal frameworks fixed to a substructure. Thermal regulations, which are increasingly stringent, quickly lead to an increase in the thickness of insulation, which must be protected from harsh weather by the architectural cladding. This implicitly increases the distance between the cladding and the supporting wall, and therefore the effort on the wall-mounted frameworks. Contrary to mineral materials, zinc – which is much lighter – is perfectly suited to these new requirements, generates no extra costs and also provides an effective response to seismic requirements (it distorts but stays in position, whereas other materials break and detach from their substructures).
Zinc is also suitable, with no special requirements, for fixing of common facade systems in various configurations (e.g. panels with edges fixed using through-bolts or wall-mounted fixing clips/cassettes with upturns and “clothes-hanger” notches for fixing on sliding cramps in extruded profiles). So zinc solutions make installation possible at heights up to several hundreds of metres, where “rain and wind” constraints are greater (e.g. Archizinc Trophy winner –Da-An towers in Taipei). It is simply necessary to consult regulations for each country and contact VMZINC staff to identify the most suitable solution.
VMZINC for its sustainability
Another advantage that is increasingly considered by the project owners and users of these very tall building is sustainability (in the environmental sense of the word) of constructive materials and systems. VMZINC respects the evaluation criteria of the various international labels (LEED, BREAM, GREEN, HQE…) both in terms of its actual proven recyclability and in terms of energy consumed to produce or transport it.
Lastly, the capacity of zinc to form a self-protective coating over time that reduces erosion of its visible surface and gives it exceptional long term durability, place it in a very positive position in “complete costs” analyses (comparative analysis of accumulated costs of materials and solutions: purchasing price + maintenance and renewal costs for durations of 50 years and over).
Technique: VMZ Interlocking panel in ANTHRA-ZINC
Although zinc is traditionally and culturally associated with roofing, its use on facades, which is not a recent phenomenon, may at times have surprised certain players in the construction sector. For the last twenty years or so, its new presentations - surface treatments and constructive systems that are suitable for tall buildings – made it possible to make it more credible and even as legitimate for facade as for roofing, particularly the fact that it makes work on all trim details, window surrounds and complex flashings on modern facades easier to manage.