Corten Steel Lamellae

 

type:
steel innovation
location:
kontich, belgium
completed:
2013

awards:
staalbouwwedstrijd 2014 - laureate

 

>> see Corten House project

 

We always try to grasp our clients taste for architecture. In this case they were very much into industrial design, raw materials and earthy colours. They let us listen to a piece of rock music with a metallic guitar sound they loved, which further clarified their style to us.
On the other hand, we were searching for verticality. In a classical, somewhat boring Belgian street, we designed an atypical volume, a little tower. To accentuate the form and make it look elegant, vertical lines were the best choice. Furthermore, we could use these vertical elements to surround the garden, creating a kind of gallery.
Combining these assumptions, vertical Corten lamellae were the perfect answer.

Corten steel has plenty of assets to fall in love with. Its structural strength, pureness, unpredictable patina, the warm colour of rust. And you can shape it in any way you can dream of. Our Corten lamellae change colour and get stained while ageing. We can’t completely control how and that exactly is its natural beauty. They even change looks during the day, catching the differing colours and brightness of sunlight.
To enhance this natural feel, we made the lamellae just strong enough to withstand time and natural elements, while not overdoing it so they wave very gently in the wind. Like a tree, strong but pliable.

Being a structural, durable and aesthetical material, there is no need to put an extra finish on top. This feels very pure and powerful.
From a practical point of view, there is no technical drawback for last minute editing on the construction site. Drilling additional holes, welding pieces together or even accidentally making scratches is no issue.
This does however not mean that working with Corten steel is always easy. You need to pay attention to every detail. Combining with other types of metals is tricky, parts that are continuously wet will deteriorate too fast, acidic fluids might eat away some pieces…

The strong Corten lamellae also have their place in the garden. They can stand perfectly on their own, like contemporary statues. It’s an unique view.
They provide privacy where desired while bigger spaces in between allow the inhabitants to enjoy the nicer views. They form a barrier between the neatly organised inner garden and the rest of the parcel where wilder flora grows freely. They catch the sunlight and throw playful shadows that grow longer while the day passes. They embrace the house and give a feel of protection. 

 

Technique and detailing:

Facade:
The lamellae are made out of folded Corten-A 2 mm and welded on a perforated backplate.  The total system is prefabricated in different units of maximum 9m x 3m and was hung in one movement over the roofborders.
This combination of prefabrication off site and a fool-proof hanging system on site, was the solution for this complex looking cladding. If each lamella was mounted on site separately, the alignment would never have been successful; or it would have taken too much time (and money). With the present solution each unit simply hangs over the roofborder as a coat rack with only a few bolds per unit at the top and no fixation at the bottom. 

Garden lamellae:
These stand-alone lamellae are folded in the same way, but out of thicker 3 mm steel. They have a heavy foot in Corten-A 10 mm and are placed on an underground console in zinc-protected steel. Both materials are seperated by rubber joints to avoid corrosion. This structure is much heavier than the cladding because wind can play easily with the four meter high lamellae. 

Garage door:
The gate is a fine piece of craftsmanship. It is made out of two big panels (4 tons each) that open sideways. They are cladded too and open automatically with a hydraulic system. 

 

A word from the owners:

“We were especially charmed by its deep rusty red colour, which intensifies around sunset. While being a raw material, Corten Steel also brings a vivid ambience. And we thought that the design with vertical lamellae added a playful touch.
People around us weren’t so enthusiastic at first and tried to discourage us. On top of that, we needed to be patient. The Corten coat is completely tailor-made, which takes time to design and execute. But we pushed through and are now elated about the result.

The house combines an unique and contemporary style with warmth and cosiness. Many modern houses are too cool to us.
We love spending time in our private garden-room – the part inside the lamellae -, where we can peer into the distance, while not being in the open. This is also the case for rooms like the bathroom. Here the lamellae in front of the window still allow to see the landscape, but at the same time provide privacy and protection from direct sunlight. 

Another feature we think is nice: the Corten lamellae on our facade are backed with perforated Corten plates. The left over Corten confetti was used as groundcover for our front patio. In this patio we planted our favourite kind of tree, making an atmospheric total picture.

Most visitors are at awe and enthusiastic. With the note that they wouldn’t have dared to themselves.”

 

 

Preparations in the workshop.Preparations in the workshop.A smaller panel, not yet rusty.A smaller panel, not yet rusty.Hanging the panels.Hanging the panels.An impressive panel.An impressive panel.Suspension and fixation.Suspension and fixation.Confetti leftovers are used as patio ground cover.Confetti leftovers are used as patio ground cover.Rusty patio ground cover.Rusty patio ground cover.Waiting for rust...Waiting for rust......there we go!...there we go!Foundation of the garden lamellae.Foundation of the garden lamellae.Fully rusted vs. fresh lamellae.Fully rusted vs. fresh lamellae.