Raw stainless steel, exposed to nature
Wheelabrator Impact met with the architects at the design stage to advise on specification and treatment needed for this application – especially considering the environment of the object in situ. We worked closely with a number of companies on the project, to marry an ambitious aesthetic vision with what is technically possible.
One of these challenges was the creation of a raw stainless steel finish on a number of dominant features across the open building – which had to be engineered to withstand the salty wet air of its coastal location. The most striking of these steel objects is a 5 metre high, 1.5 metre wide steel column in the entrance area of the centre. Half-exposed to the weather, it marks one end of a long glazed slit in the ceiling through which light pours in on the sculpture-like steel structure. Made up of six sheets, each 30mm thick and 5 metres long, the column weighs three tonnes and is made of duplex stainless steel, a material most commonly used for offshore structures due to its extreme-weatherproof qualities. The shot peening process delivers a lustre finish with a reflectivity that can be subtly varied to suit the individual environment. The process can also prevent the initiation of pitting corrosion, a huge benefit in the hostile saltwater environment.
Another stainless steel surface shot-peened for the Centre was steel wall cladding in two areas of high traffic and exposure to open air, for which softer, cold-rolled steel in much thinner sheets could be specified. But here too, a uniform and even finish across a large area was key.
The visually stunning roof top of the Centre, which blends into the environment, is also framed by the balustrades which sit atop of the basalt columns, again, these stainless steel items needed to be shot peened in order to withstand the salt water exposure of the Irish Sea.