A striking contemporary rooftop extension clad in Nordic Brown Light copper scalloped panels announces the rejuvenated Aberdeen Art Gallery and reinforces copper’s historic presence on the city’s civic roofscape.
Completed in October 2019, Hoskins Architects’ award-winning scheme incorporated a complete overhaul of the entire listed, late 19th/early 20th century complex, which consists of The Gallery, Cowdray Hall and War Memorial buildings. Following decades of ad-hoc refits and alterations to the buildings, the design transforms the visitor experience, increases display areas and improves public services. It also gives clarity to the complex, recovering the hidden logic of the original axial planning while enhancing its key spaces.
The Nordic Brown Light copper rooftop extension contains a suite of environmentally controlled temporary galleries, as well as much-needed learning and event spaces, providing bold new interiors. These new spaces enable the Gallery to hold large international touring exhibitions with their associated events. The extension also facilitates use of two newly created, outdoor rooftop terraces with spectacular views across Aberdeen.
The extension was designed as a sculptural element, responding to the proportions and colours of the existing granite frontages. It is defined by vertical, scalloped panel facades of Nordic Brown Light pre-oxidised copper – a thoroughly contemporary design but sharing materiality with the buildings’ classical copper dome. The Nordic Brown Light copper will also develop naturally over time, responding to the local environment.
The copper panels, including some perforated for transparency, were manufactured by CGL Facades. Nordic Brown Light copper was pressed and rolled to take the scalloped shape, before delivery to site and installation on secret-fix support rails with rose-golden coloured stainless steel cappings. The system forms part of a lightweight construction, minimising extra deadloads onto the existing granite walls below, with steel framing and highly insulated infill.
Copper’s unique architectural qualities are defined by its natural patina, developing gradually in the environment, exemplified by the Gallery’s original dome. Repairs to the dome itself were carried out using Nordic Green pre-patinated copper, complementing the existing historic patination. This cannot be replicated successfully using other materials with surface coatings but the ‘Nordic Copper’ range provides a wide range of natural surfaces straightaway.
The processes involved are generally similar to those taking place over time in the environment, utilising copper mineral compounds, not alien chemical processes. All these surfaces form an integral part of the copper, generally continuing to change over time, and are not lifeless coatings or paint. The Nordic Copper range from Aurubis – part of the world’s leading integrated copper group and largest copper recycler – includes Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’ and Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper offering lighter or darker shades of brown determined by the thickness of the oxide layer.
The extensive Nordic Blue, Nordic Green and Nordic Turquoise ranges have been developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. As well as the solid patina colours, ‘Living’ surfaces are available for each with other intensities of patina flecks revealing some of the dark oxidised background material. Copper alloys include Nordic Bronze and Nordic Brass, which can also be supplied pre-weathered. The innovative Nordic Royal is an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, retaining its golden colour.
Photos: dapple photography www.dapplephotography.co.uk
Architect: Hoskins Architects www.hoskinsarchitects.com