“only the Nordic Royal delivered just what we were looking for … we don’t think we could have achieved the look of the temple’s roofs if we had used any other material”

Nordic Royal Beacon

Ireland’s first Tibetan Buddhist Temple takes a step towards completion with installation of distinctive tiered roofs clad in Nordic Royal – an innovative golden copper alloy from Aurubis.

At the heart of the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Meditation Centre on the Beara Peninsula overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in West Cork, the new building was designed in the style of a traditional Tibetan temple acting as an inspiring symbol of the Buddha’s teachings. But unlike the traditional form it also includes large windows to provide extensive views of Bantry Bay. 

Highly Visible Copper Alloy Roofs 

The temple is built over three floors, each defined by a Nordic Royal clad roof with a curved-profile and deep overhanging eaves. Dragon heads and other sacred ornaments with deep spiritual meaning, hand-crafted from copper in northern India then gilded with gold leaf by members of the Dzogchen Beara community, adorn projecting corners and the top roof ridge. The project’s architect Giles Oliver, who passed away three years ago, envisaged the building as: ‘a beacon of wisdom and compassion’ and the stunning new copper roofs will be seen for miles along the coastline and from boats at sea. 

With its exceptional longevity and durability proven in the most extreme environments, copper was the natural choice for the temple roofs.  A natural element within the earth’s crust, copper has been incorporated into living organisms throughout the evolutionary process and is essential for all life. Its ability to be recycled repeatedly, without any loss in performance, is an important benefit: 100% of architectural copper products are manufactured from recycled raw material.  

Photo: Derek Corr

Photo: Leon Rossiter

Photo: Leon Rossiter

Photo: Derek Corr

Marine Environment Trials

There are numerous copper surfaces and alloys to choose from today. Leon Rossiter, one of the Directors and heading up the Temple project, explained: ‘Giles Oliver, the Temple Architect, sent a sample of the Nordic Royal asking me to look into it. We trialled different styles of copper by placing samples out on the cliff behind the temple, to face our harsh marine environment. For 18 months, the Nordic Royal sat there alongside classic copper, with and without a lacquer on it, and we tried gilding the copper as well. 

 ‘But only the Nordic Royal delivered just what we were looking for in a roofing material. As it says in the manufacturer’s specification, we found that this copper alloy provides a matt golden colour that perfectly complements the gilded ornaments. It’s shine and brilliance changes throughout the day as the sun courses through the sky. Even on a rainy day, somehow the most golden glow is exhibited. In essence, we are overjoyed that such a material exists, as we don’t think we could have achieved the look of the temple’s roofs if we had used any other material’.  

The innovative Nordic Royal is an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, giving it a rich golden through-colour and making it very stable. It has a thin protective oxide layer containing all three alloy elements when produced. As a result, the surface retains its colour and simply loses some of its sheen over time, as the oxide layer thickens with exposure to the atmosphere to give a matt finish. 

Local Links 

Although a recently developed and innovative material, Nordic Royal has been installed at Beara using traditional, hand-crafted techniques. All the crafts people involved were locally based including Wychbro Coppersmiths from Clonakilty, Stroker Fabrications from Enniskeane and the main contractor Beara Building Services, from Eyeries.

The local area also has long historical links with copper. The nearby Allihies Copper Mine Museum presented Dzogchen Beara Temple with one of two surviving copper ingots that were mined deep beneath the area during the 1800s. This was inserted for posterity into the main sacred ornament on top of the temple at a special ceremony.  

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