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Metal and Architecture

Essay by   •  November 17, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,138 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,496 Views

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Metal and architecture has evolved over centuries, with successive eras opening up new technical and elegant possibilities through the development of different types of metals. Metals are dense, lustrous materials that are highly conductive of heat and electricity.

Some facts about metals are that they are generally ductile, meaning that they can be hammered thin or drawn into wires. Metals can also be liquified by heating and then resolidified by cooling. Presently metals are the strongest building materials in common use. Found in nature, metals come in the form of oxide ores, meaning they are a compound of oxygen mixed with a mineral containing a valuable constituent such as metal. Metals can also corrode and wear away by oxidation.

Common metals include iron, copper, steel, tin and bronze. Metal is seldom used in its chemical pure state. It is often mixed with other metals or elements to modify its properties for a particular purpose. These are called alloys. An example of this would be copper plus a small amount of tin would equal bronze.

This history of architectural metals go back to the time of the Romans. The Romans were the first to use metal as a major building material. The Pantheon had a bronze roof, parts of which survived until the middle of this century. Many coppers and led were used in gothic architecture. Paxton's Crystal Palace marked a moment in history for metal and architecture. It employed 3300 columns and 2220 girders with were prefabricated from molded cast iron. Paxton's Crystal Palace set the tone for iron buildings for the next 50 years. The Eiffel Tower was also a building made of iron, wrought iron open lattice. The tower was 984 ft. and at one point was one of the tallest buildings in the world. But it is iron and steel that have had the most radical influence on architecture. The skeletal structural frame effectively liberated buildings from the inhibitions of the loadbearing wall. Cast iron, the great material of the Industrial Revolution, revolutionized Georgian and Victorian buildings.

The protection of metal includes galvanizing, tern plating, plating and anodizing. Galvanizing protects metal or steel against the exposure to the atmosphere and rusting. It is applied by an application of zinc coating. Tern plating is a steel sheet with a coating of tern metal which is an alloy of led and tin. This is applied by dipping the steel into molten metal. An example of what you would use tern plating for would be roofing, gutters, gas tanks, oil cans, etc.. Another way to protect metal is plating. Plating is the coating of metal or other material such as plastic or china, with a hard, nonporous, metallic surface to improve durability. Most plating is done for decorative purposes, but still more is done to increase durability and corrosion resistance. An example of where you would use plating would be on auto parts, housewares, hardware, plumbing/electrical equipment and machine tools. Anodizing is another method of protecting metal. It is a method of coating metal for corrosion resistance, electrical insulation, thermal control, abrasion resistance, sealing, improving paint adhesion, decorative finishing. This is applied by electrically depositing an oxide film onto the surface of a metal usually aluminum. Aluminum, after it has been anodized can also be colored and is used widely in gift ware, home appliances, and architectural decoration.

Metal is also environmentally friendly. It is by far the most recycled material on earth and can also reduce energy costs by providing a bright reflective surface to reduce the need for additional interior lighting. Aluminum although it is very expensive in terms of energy because you have to extract it from its ore and you have to ravage the earths surface, it can be usefully recycled at a fraction of the original cost. Copper is also environmentally safe. Around 75% of copper used in buildings comes from recycled sources. Steel too is becoming more "green" with a potential for reuse as a structural material. Steel can be recycled many time without a loss of strength.

Metals can also be used in handrails and railings. Some types of handrails and railings and where they are located are grab bars, safety handrails in bathroom and showers, staircases, walkers, Jacuzzi's,

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