Lunar Copper

At the heart of the renovation and upgrading of ‘the Moon’ children’s art centre in the Belgian city of Mechelen is a new, small theatre complex – a golden cube defined by its extraordinary, creased Nordic Royal copper alloy cladding.

The project’s designers, Antwerp based import.export Architecture, were inspired by associations of ‘the Moon’ with the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and its crumpled golden metal underside. This aesthetic is presented as a contemporary reflection on the intricate stone tracery of the neighbouring medieval cathedral tower, despite being achieved within a modest budget.

The architects worked with specialist fabricators Ridder experimenting with pressing and folding flat metal over a blade, resulting in a series of gentle creases – almost, but not quite, 3-D. Then, seven different designs of panels were produced using press moulds, each with folds running across at various angles and intensities. By rotating and intermingling different panels a rich, random effect was created. The verticality of the overlapping panels is retained, giving structure to the facades, but most transverse joints are not horizontal, further fragmenting the surface.

Nordic Royal is produced by Aurubis, part of the world’s leading integrated copper group and largest copper recycler. Nordic Royal is an innovative alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, giving a rich golden through-colour that is very stable. The surface retains its golden colour and simply loses some of its sheen as the oxide layer thickens with exposure to the atmosphere, resulting in a protective matt finish. It behaves differently to other copper products over time and does not develop a blue or green patina.

Other copper alloys from Aurubis include Nordic Bronze and Nordic Brass – now also available pre-weathered. In addition to Nordic Standard copper, other Aurubis Architectural surfaces include Nordic Green and Nordic Blue factory-applied patinas – developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper gives either light or dark brown oxidisation that otherwise takes time to develop in the environment.

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