At Thinking Buildings we often use zinc elements in our residential projects. It is a versatile material suitable for various architectural styles and design applications. It can be used in contemporary, traditional, and historical building projects, looking equally appropriate and attractive in various contexts.
Zinc has a long history of use in construction. Zinc’s earliest known use is by ancient civilizations for decorative purposes, as its corrosion-resistant properties made it valuable for architectural embellishments. Later in the 17th to 19th centuries, technology allowed zinc to be used more widely. Zinc is highly resistant to corrosion, making it an excellent choice for roofing, cladding, gutters, and downspouts. It can last for several decades without significant degradation. Such was its popularity, it formed the character of cities like Paris, where it was used extensively in the late 19th century.
Zinc’s continued popularity in contemporary architecture stems from the combined properties of a sleek, sharp appearance, while being incredibly low maintenance, long lasting, and sustainable.
Zinc has an attractive appearance that evolves over time. Raw zinc starts with a shiny, metallic finish and gradually develops a matte grey patina, which many people find appealing. For a more consistent finish, zinc and be pre-patinated, with the addition of colour to tint the zinc into a variety of attractive shades. This evolving aesthetic can blend with the character of a historic building, or give depth to a contemporary project.
Zinc is a very environmentally friendly material. When properly installed and maintained, zinc can have a long lifespan, often exceeding 50 years. This longevity contributes to its cost-effectiveness and minimises its environmental impact over the lifespan of the building. It is also fully recyclable at the end of its life, and the recycling process requires significantly less energy compared to primary zinc production, further reducing its impact.
While zinc has many advantages as a building material, it is essential to consider factors like initial cost, regional climate conditions, and specific project requirements when deciding whether it’s the right choice for a particular construction project. However, for many applications, zinc is indeed a good building material due to its combination of durability, aesthetics, and sustainability.