Got Rust?

My undying love of rusted cor-ten metal should not be a surprise to regular readers of L+U (here, here, and here, for instance). And Andrea Cochran riffs about it here. There are a couple of local examples here in Portland I will post soon – but until then, a few examples that use this fabulous material in some interesting ways, at least architecturally. First up, the Kanno Museum by Atelier Hitoshi Abe, courtesy of Coolboom.

:: images via Coolboom

Another cool and a bit more random example spotted via The Design Blog, from Shuhei Endo, and interesting structure called Bubbletecture H.

:: images via The Design Blog

As I’ve mentioned before, there are some great precedents in landscape architecture that can be gleaned from architectural use. A sort of fusion is via Archidose is the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre in BC by Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden architects + urbanistes.

:: image via Archidose

An additional Flickr image via Modified Enzyme offers a bit more close-up detail. Check out that stone as well on the Flickr images – it’s pretty amazing, particularly the juxtaposition of the two materials together.

:: images via Flickr – Modified Enzyme

And to go completely exterior, another one from Archidose, this time for the Villa de Madrid Square in Barcelona, Spain by Baena Casamor Arquitectes. The use of the cor-ten retaining walls echoes Cochran’s showcase house – although in a much more grand and organic way. I had to look a few times to see what material this was – as it seemed more malleable and less sharp than typical steel.

:: image via Archidose

Some description and more imagery via the architect’s website: “The project suggests a central square of grass on the same level with Canuda street and the western entrance to the square. This green carpet gradually begins to slope down, until it reaches the second level of the square, the Roman tombs, which become uncovered and exposed to the public.”

:: images via Baena Casamor Architectes

It will be interesting to see how long this love affair with cor-ten lasts (my personal one – as well as the design professions). While it’s rendered timeless in Richard Serra sculpture, will the fully rusty facade become a fad of the 2000s… remembered in a few great works and a bunch of Chipotle stores? Or will the extensive use become more common as a durable and aesthetically pleasing skin? Time will tell.

I think as a landscape material itself, cor-ten has some longevity, mostly as referenced in the examples of use in retaining walls and interesting grade changes. The strength of the material compared to the overall thickness allows for use as a malleable as well as sharp edge material that is both evocative in the landscape, adaptable, as well as relatively simple and low-profile. This is compared to, say… forming up a 6″ thick retaining wall – which has certain limitations. Thus, if not overused, this will be something for the landscape architects bag of tricks for a good long, while. That’s good, because I have a few projects on the boards using some cor-ten, and I’d hate to have missed the boat.

6 thoughts on “Got Rust?

  1. We just had cor-ten installed and I see there are several “heat stamps” as the fabricator called them. Basically, numbers on the steel. I don’t like them; how do we get rid of them? Thanks!

  2. I’m working on a contemporary home and am very interested in using cor-ten for a variety of different retaining walls… has anyone seen construction details or know how these are built?

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