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MetalWorks Round-up

Spirals and spheres

Pictured above at the centre of one of his recent 'Torqued Spirals', the American sculptor Richard Serra looks diminutive. No wonder - the curved steel wall that encloses him is some 4.3m high.

Serra's heavy-duty metal works have been appearing in galleries and public spaces for 30 years or more, but these latest are surely his most complex and ambitious. Shown last autumn in New York's Gagosian Gallery, they are the subject of a new book from publisher Steidl - Richard Serra: Torqued Spirals, Toruses and Spheres (distributed by Thames & Hudson, £18).

Baroque in inspiration, and dependent - like all Serra's work - on the spectator's movement, their spatial effects can be partly inferred from the photograph; though perhaps not their visceral impact. As the passages expand and contract, their walls pressing in ominously overhead or disconcertingly leaning out, it is easy to feel destabilised; yet, at the same time, the continuous curve keeps luring you towards the unseen centre of the work.

In reality, the surfaces of these sculptures are richly coloured (in the rust-to-orange part of the spectrum) and, with the varied marks of their manufacture, almost Expressionist in feeling at times.As usual, though, Serra has had them documented in sober, elegant black-and-white, suppressing surface contingencies in favour of the forms that these massive steel plates have somehow been coerced into taking.

Fly away success for metal roofing

Two important international airports both have standing-seam aluminium roofs from Corus Kalzip, representing two of the largest orders ever for the material. At Madrid's Barajas airport (above), Richard Rogers Partnership has designed a new terminal that consists of 240 interconnected modules, each with a width of 9m and a length of 75m. The roof of each module arches in opposite directions, to create an effect rather like the wings of a bird. The Kalzip sheets, some of which will be tapered, will be laid lengthways and curved into a convex shape. The roof lining will be made from pre-curved perforated aluminium with special sound-absorbing panels laid above.

Parsons Design Group from the US has designed the new international airport at Guangzhou in China, about 150km from Hong Kong. It is working with the Guangdong Architectural Design and Research Institute. The concept comprises a central building flanked on both sides by terminals that arc smoothly from top to bottom of the site and connect to road and rail interchanges. Both the terminal buildings and the spurs will be roofed with Kalzip standing-seam, colour-coated white.

Light and warm

The Building Research Establishment has published its Digest 465, U-values for light steelframe construction, which allows U-values to be calculated by a simplified method. It can easily be incorporated into software tools. The method was developed jointly by BRE and the Steel Construction Institute.

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