Crafting the geometry of design

Leslie McManus 2016

Challenge

The architects’ vision for Edificio Forum demanded new standards in stainless steel processing and quality.

Solution

Applying sophisticated technology to 28,000 panels of Outokumpu Supra austenitic stainless steel, three highly specialized firms collaborated to create a finish that replicates the surface of water.

Delivery

Steel grade: More than 140 metric tonnes of Outokumpu Supra 316L/4404

A stunning architectural masterpiece, the Edificio Forum repeats the geometry of Barcelona’s coastline in a striking triangular form. Dominating the sea end of the Avenida Diagonal, one of three main avenues in the Catalan metropolis, the building is the showcase of the 16-hectare Forum Plaza.

Though the tip of the Edificio Forum draws the eye into the city, the base of the 26-meter tall triangle faces the sea. And it is the sea that informs the building’s design. The forum’s upper level is cloaked in walls of dark blue concrete. The underside of the elevated structure is clad in an intricate mosaic of uniquely finished pieces of stainless steel. Look up, and the building appears to float atop a shimmering sea.

 

Rolling, polishing, coloring

About 28,000 triangular stainless steel panels (totaling 10,000 square meters) were used in the Edificio Forum, which was completed in 2004. With a side length of 1.10 meters, each panel is formed from bright annealed polished material, and each is individually embossed. Used in mass, they create a glistening, fluid pattern on the roofed outdoor area. An effect so superlative is no accident.

For this project, three companies collaborated to create the one-of-a-kind finish envisioned by architects Herzog & de Meuron. State-of-the-art technology, sophisticated processes and a relentless commitment to quality helped deliver the architects’ vision. Working with more than 140 metric tonnes of Outokumpu Supra 316L/4404 rolled to a thickness of just 0.8 millimeters in the Dillenburg cold rolling mill, smbChromstahl GmbH in Lower Saxony used a high-precision polishing machine to put a brilliant shine on the material. From there, the material passed to Inox-Color GmbH & Co. KG in Walldürn for embossing and coloring. Finally, the panels were assembled by Lummel GmbH & Co. KG, Karlstadt.

 

An uncompromising beauty

An austenitic stainless steel, Outokumpu Supra 316L/4404 is readily formable and easy to weld. And because it is alloyed with chromium, nickel and molybdenum, the Supra range is well suited to Barcelona’s corrosive marine environment. In a class by itself, stainless steel consistently delivers low life-cycle costs and enduring beauty.

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