Did you know that … Aluzinc® provides the link between function and heritage?
Incorporating functional architecture into historic built environments is an ongoing challenge for town planners, architects and historians. Yet access to these facilities is vital if town and city centres are to thrive.
Dating back to ancient times, the north-eastern French city of Metz faced exactly this problem. By 2008, successful development of the city’s assets had created high demand for parking in central Metz.
Integrating car parks into historic cities
Two sites were identified for new car parks, but the historic environments of both presented significant challenges. The task of resolving the heritage and functional aspects of the project was given to Christophe Mariotti from Mariotti & Associates.
Mariotti’s solution was to use the same metallic coating – ArcelorMittal Flat Carbon Europe’s Aluzinc® – on both parking structures. “We chose the Aluzinc® for its aesthetic appearance and its tremendous reflectivity,” Mariotti explains. “The finishes (perforations, folding ...) and durability offered by Aluzinc® were decisive in our choice.”
A shiny appearance and airy design
The first car park completed was on Paixhans Boulevard. Bounded by sports facilities and a historic district dominated by greenery and ancient walls, the car park is fully integrated into its surroundings thanks to Aluzinc®.
The shiny appearance of Aluzinc® and airy design of the steel cladding create a gradual transition from the architectural buildings at the front of the site to the green space at the rear. To reinforce the link between the architecture and nature, panels filled with plants are scattered at irregular intervals across the rear facade of the car park.
The reflectivity of Aluzinc® also enabled the architect to play with light – inside and outside the structures. At night the perforated Aluzinc® panels allow the interior lighting to escape. Direct light from car headlights is also broken up by the perforations and scattered widely by the thousands of spangles in Aluzinc®. The result is a functional and safe building which seems to add a glow to the local area.
Between opacity and transparency
Located in the city centre, the second car park is called Mazelle. It is located at the junction of neighbourhoods which date from different periods, ranging from the medieval to the 20th Century.
Mariotti’s solution here was to install a simple monolithic building which inspires both strength and lightness. Due to the high reflectivity of the Aluzinc® and the perforations in the steel, the building changes appearance in response to sunlight, and the exterior and interior lighting. The Aluzinc® cladding acts as a variable filter, alternating between opacity and transparency.
From simple car park to international artwork
The French architectural heritage organisation l'Architecte des Bâtiments de France (ABF) selected the Mazelle car park as the site for a multimedia artwork. A contest was held to select the winning design.
Created by Austrian artist Esther Stocker, the artwork features black plates of various geometrical shapes. Scattered over the facade of the car park, the design seems to have been generated by a mysterious algorithm. The design transforms a simple functional car park into an international artwork which sits alongside Stocker’s other works in London, Prague and Rome.