Some of our speakers at previous PLÅT events.

The PLÅT seminar is a major event devoted to metal sheeting and architecture.

The purpose of the seminar is to highlight sheet metal facades and metal’s architectural potential, showcasing unconventional ways of utilizing it. Every year some 300 architects, contractors and consultants attend the seminar. Previous key speakers have been Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, Kengo Kuma, Karolin Schmidbaur of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Caroline Bos of UNStudio, William Zahner of A.Zahner Company, Dominique Perrault, Jacob van Rijs of MVRDV, Bruce Nichol of Front Inc, Gregory Romine of Axis Facades and Robert Greenwood of Snøhetta.

The event is always framed by good food and good industry socializing as well as an exhibition of content rich material display cases, where experts answer questions, give out material samples and show examples of design in all metals. The organizers of the PLÅT seminars are Plåtforum, an association with leading companies within the field: Rheinzink, Aurubis, Outokumpu, Plannja, Heco Nordiska, Bevego and Entreprenörföretagen. Between them they have the country's foremost experts on copper, steel plate, aluminum, stainless steel and titanium zinc, as well as sheet metal work and fixings.

On 7 March about 300 architects and policy makers in the construction industry gathered at Lindholmen Conference Centre, Gothenburg, to be inspired by limitless architects and innovators such as Farshid Moussavi, Oskar Zieta and Doris Kim Sung. PLÅTPRISET 2013 was presented to White for the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm.

The international star architect Farshid Moussavi herself is as admired as her constructions. Her buildings impress both in their entirety as well as into detail. Nothing is left aside. And when Farshid Moussavi describes her creations, she is undoubtedly in love. The work of Moussavi interacts for real with people and the environment. A ferry terminal turns into an outdoor athlete center and the façade of an art museum dares to excel the indoor artwork (!). The buildings are consistently complex and profound where each square millimeter has a purpose. In Moussavis´ lecture we were introduced to four of her works; the Yokohama Port Terminal, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, the Leicester Cineplex as well as the Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication.

Doris Kim Sung advocated smarter facades. As a professor and architect with biological studies she does research on active facades with the human skin as a model. The phenomenon goose pumbs for example, is one smart function to copy and transfer to facades, according to the professor. Demonstrating the thermo-bimetal material she awed the audience, a material both dynamic and responsive, that can shade a room from sun and self-ventilate as well as change shape (!). The thermo-bimetal material is simply a lamination of two metals with different expansion rates.

We were also invited into the cross-border world of Oskar Zieta. He has created something like a dream fabric, and has managed to combine his playfulness with a very advanced technology and perfection. “All you need is less” was his catchword as he shared his ambition of mass production with 100% uniqueness. One example on this is Zieta´s inflatable furniture. To Zieta and his team of researchers, designers, architects and a philosopher (!) every detail is of importance. Smart thought-out deformations in thin metal plates turn into light but highly durable faced elements, and the production is not expensive. And whether furniture or façade elements – as inflatable the advantages are the same; light products, high durability and a miracle in terms of logistics, as even big elements can be transported in small size while not yet blown up. Zieta is today a sought after name in the car and construction as well as the space industry.

Inger Odnevall Wallinder was a returning favourite guest speaker at PLÅT. With her 20 years of independent research on metals and environment, she explained why copper, zinc and the other common metals used on buildings pose no danger to the environment. She claimed that it is time to drop this argument – which can be written off thanks to lots of research – and move on to other real environmental problems.
The Day also offered some short lectures presenting six hand-picked buildings and their usage of the metals copper, aluminum, zinc, steel, stainless steel as well as sandwich elements:

Kajsa Wide, Semrén & Månsson, introduced us to Clarion Post Hotel, the former old Post Office, and gave us a close up version of the new “twin towers” with their horizontal copper bands in three different patinations.

Fredrik Källström, White, shared the vision of the Tele2 Arena – in a city of world class – a vision that sees its daylight after 10 years of intense work. Källström outlined the complexity of the assymetrical area as well as described the details of the inner façade with its sandwich elements and the outer transparent facade consisting of 6000 cassettes in perforated aluminum.

Anders Wesley Hansen, Rørbæk og Møller Architects, presented the elegant annex on top of the N. Zahles Gymnasium in Copenhagen. The solid brick colossus has been favoured with glass parts and light aluminum profiles in filigran structure, creating a fabulous shadow play, inspired by the neighbouring park area.

Martin Lukasczyk, PES-Architects, let us follow the journey from the birth of Wuxi Grand Theatre to its completion on 78 000 square meters. Eight great wings of steel protectively cover the building, each wing made by 28 000 panels in titanzinc. Thanks to a close cooperation with the construction teams, numerous visits on the building site combined with a tight work together with the material suppliers, the giant project was completed in four (!) years.

Andreas Hermansson, Hermansson Hiller Lundberg, one of the architects of VILLA L, described the architectural work of this peaceful house clothed in a dark steel facade, located in the Stockholm archipelago.

Audrius Ambrasas, Audrius Ambrasas Architects, behind the Swedbank HQ in Vilnius, shared his story on the experimental journey with the detailed work on the brushed stainless steel facades.

White was presented the PLÅTPRISET award 2013 for Tele2 Arena.
From the jury´s motivation: ”With its easiness and transparence the arena stands as the confident ambassador of Scandinavian design philosophy”.
The award was received by the architects Fredrik Källström and Raimo Joss from White. Besides the honour, flowers, and a diploma in steel, they were given a specially designed art work ”Ytspänning” in bronze and copper, by the artist Marie Louise Kold. Read more about PLÅTPRISET >>

Special thanks to: Marie Louise Kold, RMIG, Wepab, Gulled

Photo: Anna Hållams
Resumé of PLÅT12, held in Malmö
On 2 February, the PLÅT seminar took place at Malmö University in Malmö. 320 architects and policy makers in the construction industry gathered to listen to inspirational lectures from, among others, Robert Greenwood, Snøhetta, and Gregory Romine, Axis facades. We also congratulated Wingårds Arkitektkontor who were presented with this year’s PLÅTPRIS award for Sven-Harrys (art museum), and ”Sheet Metal Worker of the Year” Mats Lönberg, Er-Jill Byggnadsplåt.

This year’s lectures featured spectacular facades from widely different parts of the world, as well as more down to earth Nordic buildings in various sheet metals. The first of the speakers was Carmen Izquierdo who talked about Domkyrkoforum in Lund. She explained the shape and the shiny facade of the building by referring to the location and the surrounding environment and its need for that type of architecture – choosing a brass facade did not feel daring – just obvious. She explained that it will be fade quite soon and attain a dull brown shade that blends in well with the older buildings.
   Mats Jakobsson, MAF Arkitekter, showed his titanium zinc clad portal lions in “Hållplats Sunderbyn”, or were they bears? An architecture that emerged in the forest no-man’s-land between Luleå and Boden and the lack of anything to relate to, apart from the Norrland forest and heavy rail traffic. The choice of material for the roof and façade ended up being Rhine zinc, partly because of its steel grey colour and its tactile, skin-like surface.

Environmentally friendly!
Professor of corrosion, Inger Odnevall Wallinder, was a returning favourite from previous years. With her expertise and 20 years’ independent research on metals and environment, she explained why copper, zinc and the other common metals used on buildings pose no danger whatsoever to the environment. She claimed that it is time to drop this argument – which can be written off thanks to lots of research – and move on to other real environmental problems.

Everything is possible
After a conversation with, or a lecture by, Gregory Romine, it is apparent that few people possess as broad and extensive competence in facades as he does. Gregory’s independent consulting company conducts experiments and research on everything that might improve the aesthetic and functional value of a façade. Their customers are drawn from all over the world and include many famous architects such as Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, Mass Studies etc. Gregory presented facades of bronze, aluminium, zinc, stainless steel, untreated steel, copper, composites… he also described how they treat metals in different ways to achieve the desired effect and textures a step above the ordinary. Inspiration and knowledge is willingly taken from other branches, such as the shipping industry, and the “Axian” way to approach facades is always – everything is possible!

Graphic sheet steel and natural aluminium
Johannes Norlander talked of how he was inspired by the docks and industrial buildings in Torslanda when he chose a black sheet steel façade for a new house. With this good old-fashioned “farmer’s steel” (as he himself put it) and innovative methods, he created a stylistically pure, modern and graphic façade on the hexagonal house polygon, all well harmonized with the surrounding nature.
   Jacob Madsen, Holscher architects in Copenhagen, presented a durable façade on Absalonskolan, where the light and strong natural aluminium façade have protected the building and reflected the surroundings for the past six years. The use of perforations created a patterned façade that also lets the changes of daylight have an effect on the exterior.

No architecture without robots and politics
Robert Greenwood rounded off the day by inviting us to the office life of Snøhetta, a rather disordered organisation where everyone works together, lunch is always taken together, communication is in focus and the best tool is a robot that works 24 hours a day. Yes, a robot. The architect’s office has also become a workshop that, whenever possible, is used to test materials and techniques and create mock-ups. In his presentation, Robert alternated between large and small buildings. One of the large and most current ones is King Abdulaziz hyper modern culture centre in Saudi Arabia, where stainless steel pipes have been swept around stone inspired volumes. A smaller, but just as ingenious, building is the Wild Reindeer Centre in Dovrefjell National Park. Building in the deserts of Saudi Arabia on the one hand and building “Memorial Museum” on Ground Zero in New York on the other, also turned the discussion toward the unavoidable matter of politics and the dilemma of projects that creates an interest in a lot of people. Snøhetta’s solution is to create a dynamic by alternating large builds with small.

Plåtpriset 2012
The PLÅTPRISET award 2012 was presented to Wingårdh Arkitektkontor for Sven-Harrys (art museum). The jury was impressed in part by the courageous decision to give the building a shiny golden brass façade, the detailed planning and the environmental awareness of the choice of façade material.More about the PLÅTPRISET award >>

Sheet Metal Worker of the Year 2012
For the last 17 years, the foundation Plåtslagaryrkets Fond has annually nominated a person within the profession worthy of the title “Sheet Metal Worker of the Year”. This year, the award was presented at PLÅT12 and the winner was 45-year-old Mats Lönberg, employed at Er-Jill Byggnadsplåt AB in Gothenburg. Mats has been a sheet metal worker throughout his working life and his talent and skill meant that he at an early stage was given responsibility for extensive sheet metal work on buildings of great cultural value. For example, Mats Lönberg has conducted technically demanding work on objects such as the English Church and Carlanderska hospital in Gothenburg, Holm Church in Sundsvall, Stora Hammar Church, Höllviken and on Carlsten Fortress, north of Gothenburg.
   The aim of the award is to encourage professional competence and the winner should, amongst other things, have made meritorious contributions that are characterised by considerable professional competence and achievements of high sheet metal technical quality.

Resumé of PLÅT11, held in Stockholm.
350 architects and decision makers from the building industry attended the event. Some of the speakers they listened to were the international star architects Caroline Bos, UNStudio, and Karolin Schmidbaur, Coop Himmelb(l)au. Karolin Schmidbaur has a strong focus on finding energy efficient solutions for both buildings and entire cities. She described her vision of sustainability where active buildings assume a greater responsibility for energy generation. She also showed examples on how to study ancient cultures and communities that basically built from requirements specific to the areas, in order to best utilize and refine the wind, sun and humidity, and more. These are skills that are once again used for Coop Himmelb(l)au's community building. With the help of technology, often in combination with the plate material properties, natural resources are used and effective and spectacular architecture is created.

Caroline Bos emphasized the importance of changeable facades. She felt that the architecture and especially the large buildings that are being built in our cities today easily just become large and static. But by combining metals and glass in the facades, UNStudio has in several cases been able to create nuances and a varied transparency. This gives rise to living facades where the look is influenced by daily rhythms and weather conditions. Caroline also stressed the transparent feeling for interiors. The sympathetic "flirt factor" was discussed in connection with the Mercedes Benz Museum where the flow creates a feeling of openness both between the levels and the museum's various areas.

In addition to the international speakers, five Scandinavian architects presented their buildings and represented facades from zinc, copper, aluminum, and stainless steel. Inger Odnevall Wallinder, Professor of Corrosion Science at KTH, lectured on metals and the environment. She showed research findings and presented clear facts about harmless run-off from buildings with copper and zinc coverings. The architectural photographer Wojtek Gurak also hung inspirational photos of selected metal facades in the foyer and presented his views on architecture and photography. Another first in connection with PLÅT11 was the premiere of the distribution of PLÅTPRISET. This award went to Förskolan Ugglan in Botkyrka and 3dO Arkitekter, who were praised for having used the properties of aluminum in both form and function

In Malmö we were treated to a lecture by this year’s Pritzker Prizewinner, Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA. In his typically humble Japanese manner Ryue presented several topical projects, including the Louvre-Lens museum and the recently opened Rolex Learning Center. He repeatedly stressed his obvious motto of  “Keep it simple”. The fact that sheet metal work so often figures in SANAA’s work is explained by Ryue’s appreciation of metal’s combination of reflection, lightness of expression and strength. His personal favourite is aluminium. He appeared to view his winning of the Pritzker Prize with relaxed composure, and this despite the fact that SANAA win only one out of every thirty contests. “I believe our proposals are too simple,” Ryue indicated. But with the final product before us we could appreciate that the simple was in fact what was tricky. There is generally a masterpiece lurking in achieving almost nothing – at least if that nothing comes from Ryue Nishizawa and SANAA.

FRONT and Bruce Nichol are the company and the person behind the technical facade solutions at, for instance, SANAA’s new Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Part of the task there was to create the right tonal shade on the bright aluminium facade, but first and foremost to scour the world for an environmentally friendly processing method that gave the desired result. Bruce gave a detailed insight into the problems and solutions involved in a number of exclusive facade projects where his job has been to realise the architect’s intended design idiom and functions while at the same time paying regard to the metal’s specific characteristics. FRONT’s knowledge and experience in the field of metals and facades are unique in the world, and among those who have made use of their skills are Renzo Piano, Herzon & de Meuron and Zaha Hadid.

In Gothenburg participants to the seminar were able to share in Kengo Kuma’s restrained and deferential approach both to architecture and to life itself, an approach which inspires the greatest respect for his work. The familiar expression “necessity is the mother of invention” acquires a completely new connotation after following a lecture in Kumaist architecture.  The focus is on locally available construction materials, whether they comprise plastic, stone, paper, sheet metal, bamboo or glass. Every project brings with it its own special requirements, and he constantly seeks out fresh challenges to feed his own inspiration. Time-consuming indeed, but this is his way of working and nothing else will satisfy him he claims.

William Zahner brought to his listeners a number of intriguing and surprising experiences, and invited them to take part in a creative thought process on the theme of sheet metal’s vast potential. His company is on the one hand a family heirloom possessing an inherited bank of acquired knowledge and on the other a gigantic playground in which computers and various sheet metals provide the basic materials. Nothing is impossible. With their distinctive approach whereby the commission is always focused on the architect’s wishes, Zahner’s firm stands out as the dream machine for everyone desiring to include sheet metal in their architecture. Zahner works for Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron and Daniel Libeskind, among others.

At the first PLÅT event, held in Stockholm, Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV, took the stage. With infectious enthusiasm and humour he shared with us his thoughts on techniques behind the architectural firm’s mobile housing, pig cities, container buildings, unusual material combinations and surprising colour selection. He made it clear that the future by no means needs to be as we expect.

Dominique Perrault, a major figure and monumental designer, visited Sweden for the first time. Being the leading innovator he is in the fields of metal facades and metal weave, his presentation included two ongoing projects demonstrating unique and exciting use of metals – the Markiinsky II Theatre in St Petersburg and the Olympic Tennis Center in Madrid.

Lars Ingvarsson, Ortic, doctor of engineering and inventor, was for most of us an unexpected and welcome acquaintance. He lectured on his new 3-dimensional roll-forming technique for producing sheet metal items in curved shapes, a technique that offers new potentials for sheet metal in architecture and one that has rescued the construction of numerous Olympic arenas. In addition he gave fresh meaning to the concept of just-in-time with his creative solutions for sheet metal production in mobile containers.