Zinc, unexpectedly transparent
Ideally, a building with transparent walls exhibits the way it functions, its users and the activities that take place inside it. This form of frankness led to transparency being perceived as a constructed expression of democracy. The issues have evolved, the militant symbolism of earlier years has faded.
But transparency has retained its contemporary aura. It questions the boundaries between inside and outside, reveals and conceals. Its implementation has become more complex: having worked with intrinsically crystalline glass products, architects are starting to use more sophisticated forms of transparency, playing with mesh effects, textures and wall-mounted skins.
Would the ultimate form of transparency not be to make things visible behind opaque materials? Perforated, open worked, folded, zinc makes this transmutation possible, pushing the boundaries of its versatility.
Full and void
The perforation of zinc introduces transparency with variable rates of perforation. The choice of perforation rate is subjective, but we can observe that despite low rates of perforation (30%), transparency is already possible. It is therefore not necessary to remove a lot of material to obtain it.
The size and distribution of punching can however be adjusted to vary the degree of translucency of the skin.
Perforations are made on request, according to project requirements. To reduce the inevitable visibility of the framework behind the skin, the rigidity of the zinc panels is reinforced by customised folds that make larger distances between supports possible (the height of one floor).
These folds combined with perforations enrich the texture of the facade with numerous shadow effects.
Installed on a vertical wall, the perforated zinc is inserted in a series of layers forming a mesh that combines with the materials on other walls. Reflected and multiplied in a curtain-wall, it takes on shimmering shades next to a rough concrete wall.
Mantilla, veil, mesh, lace… several terms could be used to describe perforated zinc. Like a garment, it both hides and reveals multiple realities. Perhaps there is a volume right behind the veil, or perhaps the meshing conjures up a virtual volume, with the buildings actually located further behind the veil.
VMZINC is a great metal for perforated panels as all cut edges will naturally weather overtime. Zinc protects itself by developing a dark grey patina that gives it an exceptionally long life span (40 years in an aggressive urban environment and up to 100 years in a protected rural environment). It requires little maintenance and continues to develop a protective layer throughout its life span and will self-repair imperfections and scratches.
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