A dozen winners rewarded for architectural success with zinc in VMZinc’s international prize

Twelve years after its creation, international enthusiasm among architects for the VMZinc Archizinc Trophy architecture competition is as strong as ever judging by its seventh edition, which saw over 150 projects entered from 18 countries.

This year, a jury of international architectural professionals awarded 12 prizes: nine across the four categories of Individual Housing/Collective Housing/Commercial Buildings/Public Buildings) plus three ‘special’ prizes. Going beyond buildings, these prizes were awarded to comprehensive projects combining architectural quality, harmonious integration into the environment and aesthetic balance, using creative applications that highlight VMZinc solutions.

The company commented that this bi-annual competition confirmed the material’s and the manufacturer’s “capacity to bring together diverse cultures, building typologies and architectural styles focusing on zinc.” It added that the competition celebrated how “this natural and recyclable material is used in a multitude of applications and surface aspects, in both new buildings and renovations: from the extension of a monastery to the construction of a new-generation shopping centre, and from an ecological training centre, via a house designed in an atypical style to the renovation of a historic museum.”

The competition also said:

“successfully demonstrates the strength of the connections which have been established between architects and the brand, between construction players and zinc.”

Following the awards ceremony in June, the winning architects will be showcased in a special issue of VM Zinc’s in-house magazine which is distributed to around 30 countries. The winners of this year’s trophy are listed below.

Individual Housing Winner

  • Casa Golf, Hondarribia (Spain)
  • Architect Rehabite – Enrique Echeverría Lecuona, Aritz Berastegui Aizpurua
  • And Josu Laguardia Igiñitz
  • Contractor Pizar Nort
  • Technique Vmz Standing Seam
  • Aspect Anthra-Zinc®
  • Surface in zinc 350 m²

From culture to nature

In order not to defigure the landscape in which it is set, Spanish studio REHABITE chose to incorporate a house into a rock to integrate it into a natural site.

Invited to design a house for a couple and their child on the slopes of Mount Jaizkibel in the Spanish Basque country, the architects managed to reconcile two opposite intentions: the idea of a massive block, evoking stone and its telluric forces, which seems to have sprung from the ground; and that of a lightweight construction designed for minimum disruption of nature.

The site is intimidating. The plot is located on the edge of a golf course, far from the urban extensions of Hondarribia, the neighbouring town. Above all it enjoys a breathtaking panoramic view over the sea, surrounding nature, the town of Hendaye and the Bidassoa River, which separates France and Spain.

The house, which seems to have been simply placed on top of the ground, immediately evokes mobile container architecture, such as that used for caravans or spatial capsules. Surfacing work was carried out during initial development of the site, making it possible to obtain relatively flat ground using backfill. The quality of the plot determined the layout of the house and the structural choices. The parents’ bedroom is entirely cantilevered, several dozen centimetres above ground, positioned above a three-metre embankment. The rest of the structure was made with blocks, with some subtle features enabling the installation of corner windows overlooking the horizon.

The architects initially thought of installing prefabricated reinforced concrete panels on the facade. Having hesitated between several materials, they finally chose ANTHRA-ZINC®.

“We had never used it on facades, but we were convinced we had found the appropriate material. The singularity of the joints along three different widths of bay and the nobility of the material gave us the special finish we wanted for the house”, explains the architect, who adds: “The colour black always confers a certain elegance to a building, while introducing a touch of mystery”, especially as it contrasts with a totally white interior.”



  • Contractor MORICEAU
  • Technique VMZ CASSETTES
  • Aspect ANTHRA-ZINC®
  • Surface in zinc 910 m²


Designed as an urban signal in a new GINKO eco-district of the city of Bordeaux, the CANOPEE building is located in a huge block of six buildings featuring various typologies. It is distinguished by its contrasting materials, a mix of white concrete and dark grey preweathered zinc.

The municipality of Bordeaux launched an ambitious construction programme for 50,000 housing units located at various sites. The main constraint, which dictated the layout of this new housing, was to connect it with the public transport networks with a view to reducing travel in individual vehicles.

With 2,700 housing units serviced by a tramline extended for this purpose, the new Ginko district should contribute to reaching the objectives of the 50,000 housing unit plan. Developed according to the French joint development zone procedure, this 32-hectare area is also the city’s first labelled eco-district. It’s location by the edge of a lake, on the site of an old partially conserved pine wood, makes it a very appealing district. The housing was designed to facilitate diversity: the units are not just different in terms of type – collective buildings, clusters of houses, etc. – but they are also accessed via different types of routes — boulevards, streets, alleys — creating diverse atmospheres and means of circulation.

The urban pattern of the operation was defined by the Devillers firm, in association with Bordeaux studio Brochet-Lajus-Pueyo, which was also in charge of the plan for the Canopée block occupying the bow of the Ginko district. In this programme featuring 119 housing units in six buildings, Brochet-Lajus-Pueyo created a small tower occupying a strategic position at the corner of the plot, on the banks of a canal. The building benefits from two facades facing this waterway and the park. Positioned in a very pleasant location, it also serves as a signal for the entire district. The architects designed it as a totem, a hollow volume with recessed balconies framing the two story housing units. To strengthen this sculptural effect, ANTHRA-ZINC cassettes were installed in second position in order to create a contrast with the white concrete shell. Apart from its colour, the qualitative, non-industrial aspect of this material determined the architects’ choice.



  • Aspect QUARTZ-ZINC®
  • Surface in zinc 2,200 m²


Crowning a resolutely ecological training centre, zinc roofs define a porous border between the city and nature, fully in line with the convictions expressed by the client, a local bank in this Japanese prefecture.

Nagano is the city of origin of the 82 Bank, which claims to be an “ecological bank”. The training centre inaugurated to celebrate the bank’s 82nd anniversary had to reflect this original feature, especially as it is built on a plot adjoining a forest reserve, ensuring the transition between the urban landscape and the mountains.

The project designed by Nikken Sekkei reconciles iconic architecture and environmental respect. Taking the conservation of all existing mature trees on the plot as a starting point, the architects fragmented the centre into two main entities that are identifiable by their main roofs: two large sloping rectangular planes with diagonal folds. This zinc roofing stretches down over the facade, defining new limits for urbanisation. Secondary roofing signals the entrance and administrative areas. One of the two main buildings houses the guest rooms for staff in training. The other accommodates the classrooms.

The forest was not the only element considered to enable the centre to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. As the training courses can start early in the morning and finish late in the evening, the centre is designed to avoid any disturbances for the neighbourhood. Facades facing the neighbouring houses are closed, while those facing the surrounding nature have large windows. This orientation also facilitates cooling by prevalent winds during mid-season. Those sections of the building nearest the residential zone are lower in height, in order to facilitate contextual integration.

The buildings have a concrete structure. The zinc skin protects the roof during winter time. As we can see, the longitudinal joints of the roofing elements are perfectly flat, thanks to a highly specific local technique with joint-covers clipped onto aluminium profiles. This solution strengthens the image of a tight skin and creates the sobriety requested by the client. Reminiscent of origami, the folds on the roof are designed to echo the horizontality of the gutter, despite the slope of the ridge. For the architects, this geometric layout evokes the old training centre, especially the traditional architecture of the house accommodating it.



  • Aspect QUARTZ-ZINC®
  • Surface in zinc 1,393 m²

Urban couture is a metaphor often used to describe construction operations in city centres. The Fine Arts Museum of Asturias in Oviedo, Spain, is a perfect illustration of this metaphor. Architect FRANCISCO MANGADO was determined to give coherency to an institution housed in several buildings dispersed within the same block at the heart of the Asturian city.

When the Spanish provinces became autonomous after the fall of the Franco regime, institutional facilities were created to embody the new status of the regions. Although it was planned in 1969 by the provincial government and the municipality, the Fine Arts Museum in Oviedo is also a result of this wave of decentralisation. Having been inaugurated in 1980, the issue of its extension was raised in the noughties. The surface area of the three city centre buildings – Oviedo-Portal House, Carbajal-Solís House and the Velarde Palace, built in the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries – were no longer sufficient to house a collection regularly enriched thanks to an assertive acquisition policy, not to mention the contribution of the collection bequeathed by financier Pedro Masaveu Peterson. Moving the museum to gain extra space was not considered an option, as preference was given to retaining its city centre location, just a stone’s throw from the plaza Alfonso II. Five adjoining buildings were acquired, despite the numerous constraints this involved: narrow buildings with several different owners, archaeological remains that disrupted site work, etc.

Restructuring of the buildings was awarded in 2007 through a competitive process to architect Navarrais FRANCISCO MANGADO, who had already worked on several cultural facilities throughout Spain. The obsolescence of the existing buildings necessitated a complete overhaul, and only the facades were retained. These became a sort of texture, a matrix to which the new facade does or does not connect. Mangado took advantage of this difference by adding reflecting frames that provide novel views onto the city and create blurred reflections. The architect wanted to create this blurred effect, so much so that he developed specific materials for this project such as ribbed glass that acts as a mirror reflecting the rear of the block and the space between the new and old facades.

Natural light is a particularly sensitive subject in a museum. Some natural light comes from the street-facing windows, and some comes from the large skylights that give a sculptural look to the roof. Perfectly identifiable in the urban fabric thanks to these three QUARTZ-ZINC turrets, the roofing is designed to be visible from a distance, but discreet at closer view. To do this the architect set the gutter and the three protruding skylights back towards the interior of the block.



  • Contractor GENTY
  • Aspect PIGMENTO® RED
  • Surface in zinc 6,200 m²


Schools today are no longer enclosed, indestructible fortresses. They open onto the surrounding neighbourhood, and are frequented by pupils or local residents, depending on the time of day. This junior high school in Lille is a good example of the links that can be created today between two neighbouring worlds which, in the past, would have ignored each other: a school and the surrounding town.

A former industrial suburb in the south of Lille, Moulins still has the historic red brick artisan dwellings that were traditionally built for the local workers. Despite this prevalence of individual housing, the neighbourhood is a designated urban area, under a scheme that enables companies located here or planning to locate here to benefit from tax relief.

Several actions are underway with a view to boosting the neighbourhood, such as the opening of university buildings and the creation of cultural spaces in the old textile mills. Moulins also benefits from its proximity to the Saint-Sauveur railway station, a freight station converted into a top-notch cultural centre. The new junior high school in Moulins is included in this urban renewal policy. Designed to be a centre of excellence in several domains, as well as a building open to its neighbourhood, it features a sports room for the disabled and a ping-pong room accessible to local residents outside school hours. The music room, which is also open to the public, welcomes a resident orchestra. And lastly, boarding facilities and staff accommodation make the school an inhabited place in the true sense of the term.

This variety of access and uses translates into a number of addresses. The school does not have a single entrance, but several entrances corresponding to its various purposes. Rather than a single building presenting a continuous street-front facade, the architects designed a nebulous building, in which the programme is broken down into several blocks that respond to each other. The spaces between the different entities create transparencies and far-reaching views, from the neighbourhood to the south of the city. A large school yard brings the buildings together, united in their aspect by their PIGMENTO® red zinc cladding, which resonates with the colour of the local bricks. Zinc covers the facade and certain roof terraces. “We wanted to have a landscape of roofs”, explains Frédéric Chartier, “even on the terraces, which can be seen from the neighbouring overhead metro.” The roofs and facades feature a myriad of facets that stretch upwards, deviate and intersect. Thanks to the suppleness of the zinc and the elegance of the flashings that can be created with it, it was possible to create perfect, highly complex intersections – to the surprise of the architects who took it for granted that it was not possible to join more than three edges!



  • Contractor BOLSTER CO., LTD.


For Taipei, Richard Rogers designed two high-rise apartment blocks, transposing in Asia a typology that has long been experimented in London. The architect wanted to innovate by cladding the opaque parts of his towers with zinc, in a context exposed to typhoons, earthquakes and the quality requirements of the client, which were just as drastic as the risks of natural disaster.

Vertical housing is fashionable. We see this in London and New York, where high-rise tower blocks abound. Far from being stereotypical, they must be innovative in order to meet to the requirements of affluent clients who want to enjoy the advantages offered by this typology: views, space, modernity… The stifling image of apartments stacked on top of each other conveyed by the social housing tower blocks of the 1960s is replaced in these buildings by apartments where the focus is placed on habitability: double-height ceilings, generous balconies and large windows. Made up of two apartment tower blocks of 31 and 35 storeys, the Daan complex is located on the edge of a Taipei city-centre park. The apartments are extended with vast garden terraces, providing an exterior space in the sky, bordered by glass guardrails.

Another remarkable feature is the use of QUARTZ-ZINC® cladding for all the opaque parts, chosen over copper for its capacity to switch from dark to bright according to changes in the light. The developer had very demanding aesthetic requirements. Among other things, he wanted the zinc surfaces to be perfectly flat. To meet this requirement, the zinc was glued to a honeycomb core, a technique that had never been used before on such a scale, or in such a context, i.e. a site subject to typhoons and earthquakes.

This honeycomb solution was chosen over more traditional thin composite solutions to ensure flatness and mechanical resistance. It was tested on a full-scale mock-up, using a 12 x 8 metre fragment of facade. The assembly details for the zinc elements and especially those used for rainwater evacuation – which can potentially lead to heterogeneous ageing of the facade – were optimised thanks to this full-scale model. The local manufacturer was selected for his capacity to make panels with complex shapes. The installation of a material such as zinc, which develops a patina over time, marks significant progress compared to the traditional unchanging lacquered metal and glass walls of old skyscrapers.



  • Aspect AZENGAR®
  • Surface in zinc 560 m²


In Meursault, in the Burgundy region of France, there is room for doubt! Are the zinc-clad parts of the former leprosarium a recent graft or an older artefact? Hesitation is the sign of a successful contemporary intervention, compatible with the Venice Charter, which stipulates the reversibility and identification of additions to monuments.

The former leprosarium in Meursault should be seen as an island of stone floating among the vineyards, isolated from the city. Listed as a French historic monument in 1926, the building has served several purposes in its nine centuries of existence. A residential care centre, a farm, and almost a ruin when the municipality of Meursault decided to convert it for use as a tasting cellar and information centre for wine tourism. The existing building had to be rehabilitated and extended to accommodate all the spaces required by the programme. Frédéric Jung, who won the contract, built the extension on the remains of walls, forming a curve that recreates the original feeling of insularity by enclosing the courtyard. The new and old sections connect at the gate lodge, the former entrance to the leprosarium.

Jung Architectures wanted to conserve the minerality of the monument. He envisaged using Burgundy limestone – a local material already present on the existing building – on the roof and façade. “For technical approval reasons, we had to give up the idea of using stone and we started looking for an alternative mineral material. We thought the texture and brightness of AZENGAR® zinc and its matt aspect could create a very interesting blend with the limestone layer of the leprosarium”, explains Jung. The dialogue with the existing building continued with the installation of the material. Applied on the roof and facade, the zinc forms a metal skin that frees itself to become abstract. Arbitrary openings on the extension are echoed by the original windows, whose regularity was altered down through the centuries and by successive repairs.

The malleability of the zinc made it possible to exaggerate this autonomy and plasticity: sheets of zinc cut into two different widths seem to have blurred the usual rhythm of the joints, while facilitating the insertion of windows installed directly in the cladding. Erasing the joinery of the window frame was important for the architect. The rainwater gutter was replaced by a gutter at the bottom of the cladding. But the transition between the roof and the facade was clearly expressed, in order to create a play of shadow and light, already created by the lines of the standing seams. The logic behind the modelling of the material reaches its peak at the end of the extension, which was not considered as a spandrel but as a bow, creating biases and openings onto the landscape from inside the courtyard, expressing an invitation to come into this space from the outside.

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