The recently held 25th anniversary of the Galvanizers Association Galvanizing Awards celebrated conservation, innovation and sustainability. Projects that prioritised public engagement with landscape and resident culture were favourites with the judges, with winners evidencing strongly the connection between the built world and nature.
Picking up awards this year were The Rising Path by chadwickdryerclarke studio. This visitor centre for Cambridge University Estates impressed the judges by creating an immersive journey through a New Pinetum at the Botanic Gardens, Cambridge. It won the Award for Architecture for its structural use of galvanized steel and hand driven concrete-free galvanized steel pile footings, which underpin a climbing path amongst the root protection zones of mature specimen trees. Judges were also united on the sensitive restoration and conservation of Catrine Weir in East Ayrshire by Addison Conservation + Design, which has conserved a piece of heritage engineering for the next two hundred years. It won best in Engineering for its use of a galvanized steel apron, which forms a shimmering crest to the weir and helps pick out the extraordinary light of the Ayrshire sky.
This year, the Sustainability Award was presented to Brightblue Studio for Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre in Northumberland. Their creative use of galvanized steel gabions as a structural element was an inspired means of using a volunteer workforce to help create a stunning, site sensitive building that both inspires and engages visitors with nature.
The Duplex Award was given to Studio Weave for their standout green roofed pavilion, which forms a central role in the redevelopment of the Thames Riverside Walk at Nine Elms, whilst the Galvanizing in Detail Award was picked up by dePaor for the Pálás Cinema in Galway. This striking blasted concrete building uses galvanized steel for the bespoke hardware of the cinema, with windows, sills, grills, canopy, handrails and gaurdings creating an extraordinary setting for European Cinema.
A highly commended award was given to Stephen Taylor Architects in the Detail category, for their work on the 100% affordable Cadix Housing project in Belgium, where galvanized steel was used to form the important communal design features for the project.
The RHS commission for the Chelsea Flower Show, Root Bench, by Jailmake, received a special mention too. Beautifully folded sheet metal resembles a sprawling root system and works beautifully around the single tree planted seamlessly in the middle. Speaking of this year’s winners, Iqbal Johal, marketing manager at Galvanizers Association said: “This has been a great year for the awards, not only have we celebrated a quarter of a century of the awards, we have once again made visible the extraordinary contribution that galvanizing makes to our built environment. We were especially pleased to see it play a role in projects that bring people closer to nature and which support local culture and talent.”
AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE
The chadwickdryerclarke studio were invited to participate in a limited design competition held by the Botanic Garden and University of Cambridge Estates. Their winning solution, which was a collaboration with structural engineers Smith and Wallwork, provides an accessible viewing platform overlooking the systematic beds, with an exhibition area below.
The Rising Path has been devised as a gently sloping path that leads off from the established path network, taking visitors through the maturing conifer collection of the New Pinetum. The interpretation hub at ground level provides engaging displays drawn from the Garden’s archives to encourage visitors to explore the Systematic Beds. Using BIM 3D modelling from the outset, the sculptural shape developed considers both the visual form and structural requirements; a true collaboration between architect and structural engineer.
The structural frame is formed from galvanized steel with principal members made from laser cut curved 10mm plates. The curved stringer has changing radii throughout the sweeping ellipse. The 90mm CHS columns are fixed to concrete free specialist hand driven steel pile footings. These enable the foundations to be positioned close to the trees and within the root protection zones. The importance of the site, alongside the sustainability criteria for the project, meant that the choice of materials; galvanized steel and timber were of utmost importance.
BEST IN ENGINEERING
The Catrine Weir on the River Ayr (East Ayrshire) is a 19th Century industrial structure erected as a water supply to power the Catrine Mills and their water wheels, designed by the renowned engineer William Fairburn. These wheels were the biggest in the world in their time. The weir structure was dilapidated but, although patched over time, it required major engineered conservation works to stabilise and then protect the heritage assets.
The conservation was masterminded to the smallest detail and later supervised on site by the late John Addison. The principle was to retain the weir’s original fabric as much as possible, but encapsulate it in specially designed lime concrete which closely matched the type used by Roman engineers. The original wooden weir crest was replaced with ekki timber. Apart from the obvious technical logic of the reinforcement, it was decided the crest should bear a modern and aesthetic mark.
This is where the galvanized steel apron was introduced. It creates a sharp very clean line shimmering in the sun (when the Scottish weather allows). From past experience it also provides the most cost-effective long- term solution.
The four clear aims and achievements of the wider Dynamic Druridge project were to inspire and engage people about nature, to build a new Sustainable Wildlife Discovery Centre and to recreate and reconnect habitats to increase biodiversity.
Located on the North East Coast, the site is on the Hauxley Nature Reserve which was an old open cast mine. As with many elements of the project, an important objective was that of demonstrating the possibilities of using a non skilled workforce, using widely accessible and affordable components yet still producing a high quality building of architectural interest. The project also made use of galvanized gabions as a primary structural component for the first time in the UK.
The structural engineer utilised the experience of Haiti post the 2010 earthquake. Galvanized gabions were chosen as the key foundation link structure for the project as they were ‘fillable’ by the volunteer workforce – the central corridor is a tour-de-force – and moveable by a single person. They also accommodate movement, as the whole strategy of the structural design was one of adaption to the complex brownfield site. The galvanized solution in this location provides a cost-efficient solution that was both humble, easy to transport to site, suitable for the location for the longevity of the building, and easily adjustable to suit the changing site conditions.
THE DUPLEX AWARD
Studio Weave were commissioned to design a pavilion as part of the Churchman Landscape Architects led redevelopment of the Thames Riverside Walk in Nine Elms. The pavilion provides shelter for the public, as well as for a storage facility for equipment to be used for local events. As a result, the square facilitates activities that complement the ongoing development of Nine Elms. The raised garden allows the pavilion to address the square, while providing an additional patch of greenery easily appreciated from ground level.
Galvanized structural steel is clad in timber and adorned with colourful patterns. The walls at ground level, planters and the water tower are made from proprietary water tank panels. The panels are pressed steel and as such require sealing and weathering. Although these would be typically over- coated with additional finishes to both sides, the architects found that galvanizing provided ideal protection to the steel as well as an optimal base for finishing.
The external faces of the panels were coated with a cold applied polymer composite finish. The panel faces internal to the store room were left to expose their galvanized finish, and the external copper finished faces left unsealed to allow natural weathering and Verdigris to develop over time.
GALVANIZING IN DETAIL AWARD
The project was commissioned after grant funding was received from the EU, which was championing the screening of European-made films in purpose-built cinemas as a pushback against Hollywood. dePaor developed the design through analogue means – hand drawings and models at varying scales – to test the qualities of rooms, circulation spaces, the passage of light and the relationship between structure and linings.
Located in the old town between the docks that face the Atlantic Ocean and the River Corrib that flows into it, the building sits on a very tight corner plot previously occupied by an early-nineteenth-century merchant’s house. The grit-blasted concrete façades appear as render from a distance and have a similar quality to the exposed firewalls of Berlin.
The façades are punctuated with 25 square operable windows made of Iroko with galvanized steel plate sills to throw off the rain. They are arranged in a seemingly scattered pattern, giving little indication of internal use. Indeed, other than the words ‘Palace’ and (the Gaelic) ‘Pálás’ imprinted on the thinnest sides, the building’s form and language give few clues as to its function. All of the external hardware to the building is fabricated from 6mm galvanized mild steel including: the weathervane – a cut profile of a woman chasing her silhouette for north; the coping and cornice – cleated for scale when viewed from the street; the entrance canopy – a tripartite gutter which ends in the letters ‘pálás’, as well as staircases, gates and railings at street level. Galvanizing was chosen for its texture and colour – flat against the West of the Irish sky; the way it weathers to a soft grey and how it complements the limestone and concrete.
HIGHLY COMMENDED AWARD
Cadix Housing is a new residential building over six levels and comprises a mix of 27 triplex, duplex, and single level homes, commissioned by the housing association Woonhaven Antwerpen.
The brief was for an apartment building in the area surrounding Antwerp’s old docks as part of the urbanism strategy set out for their redevelopment. Sitting within the rugged industrial context of the old docks, the new brick building needed to be a robust addition to the neighbourhood that could hold its own against the sturdiness of its historic neighbours. Its masonry volume is softened by the refined detailing of its architectural metalwork, ranging from windows and doors to gates and balustrades, which present a finer character to the parts of the building that residents come into contact with.
There were several strands to the thought process that resulted in galvanizing being specified for the important communal design features in the building. Foremost amongst these was the direct and unpretentious nature of the finish, together with its attractive material qualities. Combined with the relative cost of galvanizing compared with other materials and finishes that can work within the same constraints of budget, longevity, material strength and aesthetic appeal, it offered unparalleled value for this 100% affordable housing project.
Seen up close, the understated variegations in patina provide an attractive depth of expression, which complements the equally rich surrounding materials of brickwork and cast stone. As these are the parts of the building that will be touched and experienced through the act of living here, the fact that the galvanized finishes will dull or polish dependent on use and wear, will add a further layer of refinement to this appearance as the building ages.
A SPECIAL MENTION
Commissioned by The RHS for Chelsea flower show, the Root Bench gives its simple visual aesthetic over to the single tree planted within it. Representing the ground surface are six large planks of English Oak, beneath which are the roots of the tree. Folded from 2mm steel plate, and reminiscent of a biological cross-section drawing brought to life, the mass of complex folded steel can support the weight of 4m long fully laden benches, through its intersecting geometry and extruded form. Designed using parametric software and all fabricated in house, the design is a simple ode to the miraculous strength of root systems. Once galvanized, the result left the benches in a shining bright zinc finish. Each European Oak plank for the top of each bench was sanded and oiled to protect the wood from weathering. ■