The words steel and industrial metal can bring to mind images of burly, heavy-duty manufacturing. But this narrow view underestimates the role of sheet metal supply, human-centered design, and efficient use of resources in some of the most innovative and forward-thinking engineering projects and ideas of the moment. As the following construction and urban revitalization projects show, there are some uses for industrial metal products that are as much about clever, thoughtful design as they are about solid manufacturing and building.
Proving that industrial steel can be at the core of even the sleekest, airy structures. Designed by the architecture firms, the extreme thinness of towers would free up space between each building for more usable green space on the ground. By giving more space, light, and views to residents on each level, the project minimizes the cramped feeling that predominates in many of Seoul’s more conventional high-rises. But the true innovation is that because each unit is situated around the structural core of the building, the core also acts as the exterior facade of the building, eliminating extra materials and thus extra costs.
In other cases, sometimes just thoughtfully augmenting the exterior is enough to bring life and use to a building. Creative use of sheet metal supply has transformed the feel of most cities shopping centre, with a newly added-on facade made of perforated sheet metal covering 20,000 LED lights. At night time, these lights create playful patterns of light across the face of the building. The metal acts as a screen through which the individually controlled LED light up in both random arrays and sequenced patterns. The effect is an ever-changing wall of light, eye-catching but not overwhelming.
Even if you don’t live in cosmopolitan cities, there are still benefits in this forward-thinking approach to construction. Already more than half of the global population is estimated to live in cities, and that number is only expected to rise. As we become an increasingly urbanized world, architects, urban planners, and superior materials providers will be pushed to cooperate to maintain a reasonable standard of living for all urban residents. As more projects like these come to peoples’ attention, they will hopefully become more marketable and more sought-after in all cities around the globe.