When Baron Haussmann redeveloped Paris in the middle of the 19th century the vast majority of the 40,000 new buildings were protected by zinc roofs and rainwater was drained away using zinc gutters and downpipes. The top floors of many of these buildings were the lodgings for domestic servants working for wealthier families living on the floors below. Over the following 150 years some of these living quarters had become commercial office space and then returned to residential use but the zinc roofs have remained. None of the original zinc installed 170 years ago now exists but there are examples of buildings where zinc has lasted 130 years. When the zinc is finally replaced it is quite straightforward to remove and recent figures indicate that 98.9% of this zinc is recycled.
Design is fundamental as is the skill of the zinc roofer, a Paris zinc roofers association is applying for this skill be given UNESCO world heritage status, more news on this later in the year.
Whilst the traditional zinc batten cap roofs are still a common feature of Haussmannian architecture in Paris and beyond, the techniques and systems used for all types of buildings have expanded vastly. In Grenoble in the French alps MILK and SORIA Architects designed a school extension amidst 19th century buildings. The colour of the tiles is reflected in the PIGMENTO Red standing seam panels forming zinc origami.
In Chicago, US, Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects designed the David Rubstein Forum. A system of superimposed boxes with a pre-weathered QUARTZ-ZINC flat lock panel facade.
On a slightly smaller scale in Ely, PiP architects transformed neglected agricultural barns into riverside dwellings using ANTHRA-ZINC and PIGMENTO Brown zinc.
VMZINC has not only been used since 1837 to add aesthetic value to the exterior of buildings. It is also very durable and a BRE Environmental Product Declaration indicates a service life of 100 years with full recyclability. VMZINC also has A1/A2 combustibility ratings and has passed BROOFt4 fire tests. Last but not least, this is also now backed up by a 50 year material warranty that is offered to VMZINC@WORK partner installation companies.
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