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London, UK - Copper Awards shortlist shows the rich potential of an ordinary material

The Copper Awards shortlist celebrates the potential of an ordinary material

The shortlist has been announced for the biannual European Copper in Architecture Awards. Now in their 15th cycle, the awards recognise the skilful use of copper in buildings and are also an impressive celebration of the best in contemporary European architecture. AR Editor Catherine Slessor chaired the judging panel and the final results will be published in more detail in the November issue.

Set in disparate locales ranging from central London to the South Tyrol, the seven shortlisted schemes clearly demonstrate the potential of copper and its various alloys as an architecturally versatile as well as a sustainable material. Among the shortlisted submissions is an extension to the Villa Vauban Art Museum in Luxembourg, by Philippe Schmit Architects. The new extension is wrapped in perforated panels of red brass, which appear to dissolve when viewed at night, changing from an opaque surface to a glowing, translucent veil.

At the funeral chapel of St Lawrence in Vantaa, Finland, by Avanto Arkkitehdit, white walls are counterpointed by ceilings made of patinated copper. Each panel was patinated by hand, so the copper has a rich colour and texture, enhancing a highly atmospheric study in the handling of space, light and materials.

One of the more unusual shortlisted submissions is Freya’s Cabin by Studio Weave. Inspired by a folk tale, this cabin sits on the edge of Kielder Water in Northumberland. Plywood sheeting is delicately cut and shaped to create an arboreal bower inside the cabin; outside, it is clad in ‘gold’ panels made from a copper and aluminium alloy. The richness of the metal exterior forms an evocative contrast to the rustic simplicity of the plywood interior.

The other shortlisted projects are a house at Seeheim, Germany, by Fritsch und Schlüter Architekten; a town hall and cultural centre in Berriozar,Spain, by Garcia Rodriguez Alcoba; an alpine recovery centre in the South Tyrol by AllesWirdGut Architektur, and a residential development in London by Make Architects, wrapped in brass panels with different alloy compositions designed to patinate at various rates over time.

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