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CORTENs STEEL

ReseaRch PaPeR

aDRIaNO cLaUDIO scaRFO 547503


abPL 90301. aRchItectURaL FINIshes. 2011 23rd DecembeR 2011. INDIvIDUaL assIgNmeNt +

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cONteNts
cORteN steeL ReseaRch PaPeR_

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abstRact INtRODUctION case stUDY 01


(australian centre for contemporary art)

case stUDY 02
(sidney myer asia centre, University of melbourne)

DIscUssION bIbLIOgRaPhY

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INtRODUctION
cORteN steeL ReseaRch PaPeR_

corten steel has become a popular faade treatment of recent, with its use in local and international architecture. most notably in local architecture there has been a celebration of the material in two iconic buildings in melbourne, such as the australian centre for contemporary art (acca) and sidney myer asia centre. the purpose of this report is to provide some basis for conservators to use in considering possible treatments for the care of corten steel structures. cOR-teNb is actually a trade name for the product being discussed in this report, as it is actually a corrosion resistant low-alloy steel that forms a protective coating of rust (hydrated iron oxide) when exposed in many natural atmospheres. the weathering of corten steel is due to many factors within its environment, and since its appearance will change over time there must be care taken in designing and caring for the material. the rust layer on corten steel is only able to form a protective layer once the fine crystallites of early rust re-crystallise, and it is once they re-crystallise that they can form into a sealed layer of rust. the formation of the protective layer requires alternating wetting and drying cycles; the wetting to generate the rust, and the drying to allow it to re-crystallize. If the steel is not allowed sufficient drying time, the resulting continual rusting will cause the partially crystallized outer layer of rust to be shed and will prevent a barrier film from forming. the appearance of corten steel depends on the extent to which re-crystallisation has occurred and controls the extent to which the barrier layer is formed. the early rust forms in isolated crystallites

that are fine, red and diffusely reflecting, like iron oxide. the layer which has re-crystallised appears to be blue and reflective, almost similar to that of mineral form of iron oxide (specular hematite shown below).

http://earth2geologists.net/grandmanangeology/ mineralPhotos/specular_hematite.JPg

therefore when studying corten steel and the differences in appearances of recrystallised oxide which may form, the cause for such differences stems from the amount of wetting and drying that occur. as a general note, all flat surfaces experience more drying (blue, gloss appearance) and the vertical surfaces experience more wetting due to condensation, lack of drying, run-off and so they appear more red.

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the appearance of corten steel can also be affected by other factors, including graffiti. During re-crystallisation the rust will trap particulate matter on the surface. If this material is coloured it will contribute to the appearance of the rust. chemical cleaning treatments such as acids can convert the hydrated iron oxide to other iron compounds of different colour or appearance.

variances in the appearance of corten used in the built environment will be affected by one or a mixture of the weathering factors described previously. analysing the case studies and determining the causes of corrision will form the basis of this report. In discussion, the problems will be reported and solutions proposed.

In atmospheres with significant content of sulphur oxides deposits of white to yellow ferrous sulphate may appear in the rust on weathering steel. In some climates organic growth such as moss may be present and affect the appearance of the rust.

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6031/6323749257_28 04d2cc9f_z.jpg

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case stUDY
architects: Wood/marsh PtY LtD architecture Location: victoria, australia Project Year: 2002

create a strong presence and express with optimism. Referencing the past industrial occupation of the site (warehouses), the predominant vocabulary of the architecture is that of the shed; steel frame and taut metal skin. coupled with the single dominant cladding material (large insulated trays of corten steel) the sculptural form simultaneously alludes to the industrial age and natural landforms. Openings in the external fabric are kept to a minimum to support a broad array of installations, ephemeral and digitally projected work. Pragmatically, the combined wall structure achieves the necessary thermal performance to protect art works in the event that the mechanical equipment fails.

01_ australian centre for contemporary art (acca)

completed in 2002, the australian centre for contemporary art (acca) is a multiuse facility built for the victorian state government in melbourne, australia. the project combines the existing infrastructure of three organisations, acca, chunky move and Playbox, to create a unified major presence in the arts precinct surrounding the existing malthouse theatre, which is located on the adjacent site. the building is designed to make reference to its primary function; it is a sculpture in which to show art. the bold form and materiality of the faade is intended to

http://identitydesigned.com/images/fabio-ongarato/acca-building.jpg

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01_North Facade Overall view of the building with overcast lighting conditions. From a distance, which the building is meant to be viewed (as a monolithic sculpture), damage to the buildings facade is barely visible. 02_Uniform panel (No Damage) With no apparent damage to these panels shown in this image, it may serve as a guide to what the original state of the material was intended to be. this image was taken from above head height as below this height there is graffiti and other types of damage.

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03_chemical Damage the damage shown to this panel is obvious in the colour change of the protective layer formed over the steel, which is either a product of cleaning, or liquids being spilt accidently. by disturbing the drying/wetting process the creation and re-crystalisation of rust is missing in the damaged section. 04_engraving of graffiti When engraving the material, the protective rust layer is removed and will only regenerate with the creation and recrystalisation of rust.

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05_Panel Join Detail Where the cor-ten panels join, there appears to be a more dramatic removal of the protective layer through weathering. Where joins occur on the facade this is common.

07_Narrow Panels Design considerations must take into account the narrowness of panels and the affect that this will have on the weathering of the panels. Weathering is more severe in these sections as shown.

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06_graffiti from 0-2 metres (engraved) by locating the material below a reachable height the affects can be seen through the occurence of graffiti.

08_graffiti (coloured spray Paint) to remove coloured graffiti a number of layers of the protective coating must be removed, as during recrystallization the rust will trap particulate matter on the surface. the material is colored so it will affect the appearance of the rust.

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09_covered areas the appearance of the protective layer of rust differs in the two locations shown. the first is not covered and suceptible to the elements (water, sunlight) which allows the rust process to occur. the second is covered and would receive little if any weathering from water or sunlight as is seen in the colour difference between the two. must be considered in the design at an early stage to avoid unwanted variations of colour. 10_as above (09) close up view

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11_concentration of graffiti Layers of graffiti are seen here, and it is the natural formation of rust which will transform the material to its intended form (Which is occuring on this wall, although at a slow rate). 12_constant damage When items such as the bin in this image are constantly rubbing against and removing the protective layer of rust from the same area, then there is no time lapse between damage and repair by the wetting/drying process. Designation of these items within a site must be located appropiately to avoid such damage.

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13_attempted graffiti Removal the use of chemical solvents has not been able to remove the graffiti shown below, and has further discoloured the cor-ten steel by spreading the white paint to other areas previously unaffected. as stated previously, the paint will penetrate deep into the rust layer.

15_Water Damage the occurence of water damage in this section may have been caused by internal water leaking, or the ponding of water. the angle of the material may affect the ability to shed water, which might have been an error on the construction or design team.

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14_adhesive Damage close-up of damage (16)

16_adhesive Damage Using adhesive tape or other products to attach items to the material will inevitably remove sections of rust and may occur more damaged in sections closer to the join of two sheets of steel.

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case stUDY
architects: Nation Fender Katsalidis architects Location: victoria, australia Project Year: 2001

02_ sidney myer asia centre, University of melbourne

Wrapping around the north-eastern corner of the faade at street level is spirit wall, created from rusted corten steel by the Japanese-born australian sculptor akio makigawa. Defined as the sum of makigawa's sculptural career, spirit wall draws together symbols he often used. In this, his final work (makigawa passed away in 1999 and completion was overseen by his wife, carlier makigawa), seed pods and buds represent birth and growth, and water symbolises life. the five simplified houses refer to the five continents, while the annulus (ring) is the eastern symbol of heaven. monumental in its vision, spirit wall is a commanding marker to this busy Parkville campus entrance.

the sidney myer asia centre is a multipurpose building that responds to a range of functions to serve the needs of both University teaching and exhibition space and the headquarters of an education/ business group, asialink. the building area of 5,700 m2 has five levels on swanston street with the theatre located in the basement below. the creation of the basement theatre provided an opportunity to create a landscaped ramp connection diagonally through the site from a new major grassed open spaced to connect to University buildings to the south that previously were isolated.

http://asialink.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/image/0007/490093/sidney_myer_asia_centre.jpg

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01_Overall view of corten the difference in surface weathering is most obvious in this image. the erosion of rust from beneath the sculpted pieces and streaks also. 02_Damage from adhesives the use of blue-tak and other adhesives to support posters have left large amounts of weathered patches on the surface. the area that has had the rust removed will eventually regenerate, although in this area poster placement is commonplace and degradation may continue.

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03_Weathering on angles Where the steel is placed at an angle, such as above the window treatment shown above, there is more area for water damage to occur and so run-off will reduce the protective rust layer more so than that of a vertical surface. 04_Water damage the streaking of water may be a desired effect in some circumstances. It is the near horizontal surfaces which will pool water and create a streaking effect, and to avoid such occurences the surface will need to designed accordingly.

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05_graffiti engraving this was one of only three pieces of graffiti located on this corten steel structure, and it may be the program of the building which has discouraged graffiti from being marked on the surface of this building.

07_adhesive Damage close-up of adhesive damage to corten surface. (02)

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06_Water Damage (streaking) streaking which occurs on this angle differs from that of image 04, and it may even be that streaking cant be avoided and must be considered when creating the form of such structures.

08_affect of water on certain forms the curves of this form have created a different form of water streaking.

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09_affect to form sharp corners of forms will erode quicker than other forms, regarding only natural causes, and it may be desirable to consider a thicker sheet of corten when designing. 10_Removal of protective layer three distinct layers are uncovered here, with the furtherest left being completely void of rust through erosion, the second has recovered slightly and has produced rust which is crystalising, and the third is the intended state.

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11_colour variations this panel has been altered by a chemical solvent as seen by the degradation of the panel. the weathering is light in colour as it is cleared of the protective coating. 12_affect of water on certain forms the curves of this form have created a different form of water streaking.

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13_small scale this symbol of heaven (artist's impression) is a sculpted piece, and with the use of smaller pieces of the material being used there is less noticable degradation of the material and there is less chance of the material being vandalised.

15_circular Form the curves of this form have created a different form of water streaking.

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14_cleaning Damage Damage to the panel appears to be uniform in its application, and may have happened through a cleaning process. Wetting the panel will create such a problem.

16_graffiti (chalk) Located under a covered area is this chalk graffiti piece. the properties of chalk will allow the graffiti to eventually weather away, and would be more desirable than engraving the material.

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17_Water pooling damage (sill) Water will pool on a horizontal surface and when considering corten it is noticable that it will damage the protective coating and remove layers of rust. a fall to the form will help to resolve this issue. 18_cleaning Damage Damage to the panel appears to be uniform in its application, and may have happened through a cleaning process. Wetting the panel will create such a problem.

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19_Protuding Form the curves of this form have created a different form of water streaking. It appears to be of different colour to that of the vertical surface. 20_Overall view the wall facing swanston street.

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DIscUssION
cORteN steeL ReseaRch PaPeR_

the two case studies had produced some similar findings in natural occurances of weathering, although human alterations (graffiti, design issues) were only small in one and not the other. the sidney myer asia centre had a very intricate design, as it was a sculpture placed upon an external wall. It was this intricate design which produced findings of inappropriate design crevices or pockets which trap water. the continual presence of water leads to excessive corrosion evidenced by rust flaking or observable metal loss. this is a design intention in this case, although in future buildings this should be considered. acca is a building which is located in a less-densly populated area with visibly less security. Noticed upon viewing this building was the amount of graffiti located around the perimeter of the building up to about 2 metres. It was mostly engraving of the rust and only in two instances was it coloured paint. the buildings purpose as an art gallery may have played a part in this vandalism, whether intentional or unwanted. the program of the building will affect the connection which the public have with it and should be considered in design. there had not been a significant loss of steel thorugh excessive rusting, however if there was, then these areas should be sealed or coated to provide protection, and may need reinforcement if there has been significant steel loss. some may argue that using a sealer will distrupt the natural formation of rust upon the surface, and this in turn will also need treatment at stages in its life cycle.

In the case of discoloration of rust due to causes other than exessive corrosion, if the rust were to be removed without a change in some factor in the environment the rust would eventually return to the original discolored appearance. If the rust layer is considered to need a chemical solution applied to fasten the weathering process, then a solution such as one of water mixed with a small percentage of hydrochloric acid should be used. this solution will not stain the material as such, or introduce a new finish which will affect the intended aesthetics of the material. It is cost effective and easy to apply. the thickness of the steel sheet at its initial installation and at its time of restoration will affect the solution to restoring the steel to its intended finish. When a layer of protective rust is removed then the steel must lose part of its structure to form a new rust layer. eventually this material will need to be replaced, depending on the erosion level caused by any one of the mentioned factors it may vary from one building to another.

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bIbLIOgRaPhY
cORteN steeL ReseaRch PaPeR_

L. sullivan, L. cramer and b. Nemec. sculpture trail invites people to enjoy public art treasures at the University of melbourne. UniNews vol. 13, No. 8 17 - 31 may 2004. Retreived 15th December 2011 from < http://archive.uninews.unimelb.edu.au/ news/1440/index.html>. Nation Fender Katsilidis architects. sidney myer asia centre - University of melbourne. Retreived 15th December 2011 from <http://www.architecture.com.au/awards_search? option=showaward&entryno=20023072>. Jett, m. Flashback: australian centre for contemporary art (acca) / Wood/marsh. Retreived 15th December 2011 from < http://www.archdaily.com/178260/flashbackaustralian-centre-for-contemporary-art-acca-woodmarsh>. W. hou and c. Liang. eight-Year atmospheric corrosion exposure of steels in china. corrosion. volume 55, Number 01, January, 1999. Nace International. K.-J. eichhorn and W. Forker. the properties of oxide and water films formed during the atmospheric exposure of iron and low alloy steels. Progress in Organic coatings, volume 15, Issue 2, 26 June 1987, Pages 125-148