Stainless Steel: Perfect for the Architect!

Stainless steel is truly one of the world's most versatile materials, which explains why it is used for so many applications in so many different industries. In this edition of the BS Stainless blog, we are going to look at some of the ways in which it is used first by architects and then by construction workers to bring the blueprints into reality. 

The beginning of the stainless steel story was in 1798 when the respected chemist Louis Vauquelin isolated and subsequently presented the element chromium (a vital constituent of all stainless steels) to the French Academy. Though several British scientists experimented with using chromium to create alloys in the early part of the 19th century, the creation of the first true stainless steel (in 1913) is credited to Harry Brearley.

The world's first structure to make extensive use of the newly discovered alloy was the Chrysler Building in New York, USA. Completed in 1930, the Chrysler Building enjoyed a brief period as the world's tallest, standing at 319 metres in height. Just 11 months later, that title was snatched away when the 391-metre-tall Empire State Building (which was also noted for being built using a great amount of stainless steel) was completed.  

Jumping forward almost a hundred years to the present day, stainless steel is still a primary construction material. One of the most recent buildings to be completed is the new 010 Building in Fukuoka, Japan; located in a prominent position overlooking the River Naka, the ultra-modern structure is a cultural hub and houses bars, restaurants and a theatre. 

010 Building boasts a unique design which seamlessly combines two distinct elements. The building's central form comprises a stack of rectilinear metal and glass volumes, with each new level of the stack being rotated 45 degrees from the preceding level; this creates areas on which balconies and terraces are located. This element of the structure is wrapped with a spiralling metal 'curtain', constructed using panels of stainless steel. 

As is the case with many structures that utilise stainless steel, the practical properties of the alloy are only half of the story: another factor that strongly influences the decision to use the material is its unique aesthetic value. Commenting on the appearance of Building 010, a spokesperson for lead architect Clouds AO said: "The satin metal curtains reflect the constantly changing liquid aura of the weather and open sky by day, and shimmering city lights and neon by night."

BS Stainless is a specialist supplier of the numerous types, forms and grades of stainless steel that are used in the architectural and construction sectors. For more details about our comprehensive collection, please browse our website.

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