spans so that only three tree-shaped columns are needed for a walkway running the length of the site. The second ‘pebble’ houses an eight-screen cinema complex sitting at the centre of the building, which offers a completely “atypical” level of projection quality for such a site, according to Roulin. The final zinc pebble is the main attention-grabber in the whole development, sitting at the corner of the site next to the canal, main road and tram line, and forming the new ‘entrance’ to the city. Housing a 2500-capacity events venue it sits side-saddle on top of a larger second curvy form clad in orange-red openwork Lauder PAREA timber panels, and containing major retail brand outlets. This unusual but characterful composition, playing off the contrast between timber and zinc, is the new focal point for the north east of the city.

A testing installation

The installers of the zinc, which is a new panel by VMZinc tested for the first time on the project, were really put through their paces to make the cladding fit the pebbles’ curved design, such as where it curves in towards the base of the events venue. Each panel had to be carefully attached to the next using fixing clips, and nailed to a timber framework, but many also had to be cut to size to fit the curved geometry. This meant that many panels near the more extreme curved sections had to be precisely cut once on site to smaller sizes by the roofing contractor Jacobs & Sohn as they went, to match the architects’ 3D modelled design.

This hand-finished aspect helps to add a certain organic quality to the otherwise fairly plain although attractive light grey, gently reflective zinc forms. The four kilogram shingles appear like scales, due to being arranged diagonally, and their surface grain is only apparent when you inspect from fairly close range, but they are subtly effective. Given there are 19,360 zinc shingles on the three buildings, their malleable, easy-to-fold nature was crucial. However while it’s a fairly time-consuming process, zinc is claimed to be a cost-effective way to achieve complex roof designs such as this.

Thanks to the efficient working of the installers to a predefined schedule, and the flexibility of VMZinc’s Bratislava factory, the whole zinc envelope was installed in 10 months, with 30 installers working on the buildings at the project’s peak.



This mix of buildings was key to the architects’ wish to create a piece of the city, not a shopping centre

© Jump Picture

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