It’s four decades since VMZINC launched its first product that provided an alternative to zinc’s natural appearance
VMZINC has been produced since 1837 and for the first 141 years, while there were numerous technical advances in the production of zinc, the actual visual aspect remained almost unchanged. The only choice for architects was natural zinc. This forms a middle grey patina by reacting with water and CO2 in the air, however an even patina takes several years to form.
Since the early 19th century, natural zinc has been used in conjunction with slate. It was not uncommon for architects to request contractors to paint the zinc flashings so that they blended more harmoniously with the slates. In the mid-70s, VMZINC started to experiment with pre-patination techniques with the desire to change the surface aspect of natural shiny zinc to give it a darker and more matt aspect. In 1978 ANTHRA-ZINC® was launched. Initially its use was confined to flashings for slate roofs and products such as the Integra roof vent.
Fairly soon after the product launch, architects began using ANTHRA-ZINC® as a roofing material in its own right. The use of this pre-patinated material then extended to it being used as a façade material.
Christian De Portamparc designed the Champs Libre Project in Rennes, France, over 20 years and used ANTHRA-ZINC® in a very creative fashion.
More recently ANTHRA-ZINC® has been used for standing seam cladding at the National Conservation Centre in Stirling, designed by Historic Scotland. Gpad architects have further extended the use of ANTHRA-ZINC® to a rainscreen façade where the material has been perforated, corrugated and curved resulting in a façade that plays with the inset yellow balconies.
Different zinc finishes can also be mixed. Architect Sheppard Robson has combined natural zinc, QUARTZ-ZINC® and ANTHRA-ZINC® on numerous projects, while BDP architects mixed engraved AZENGAR® and ANTHRA-ZINC® on the Maxwell centre in Cambridge.
Since 2005, zinc has been available in subtle shades of colour. The PIGMENTO® range retains the natural texture of zinc but adds a discreet pigment to its surface. Jestico + Whiles architects combined several different finishes of PIGMENTO® on the Greenwich Millennium Village project.