“Various metals were appraised and a group of copper alloys from Aurubis identified to ensure long term quality and handsome weathering. From these we selected Nordic Royal, an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, offering a distinctive golden colour”
Brushed Nordic Royal copper alloy fins help define a major redevelopment that completes a historic square in Scotland’s capital.

Comprising 9,300m² of ‘Grade A’ office space, 6,500 m² of leisure and retail, and a suite of luxury apartments, the redevelopment occupies most of the southern edge of St Andrew Square in the heart of Edinburgh’s Georgian ‘New Town’ World Heritage Site. Designed by Hoskins Architects and CDA, the scheme involves a massing strategy of projections and recesses, reflecting the scale of historic plots on this side of the square. A series of metal and stone fins enables the complex to be very ‘open’ when viewed directly, taking advantage of the extraordinary long views and maximising daylight, whilst appearing solid in oblique pedestrian views.

A series of metal and stone fins enables the complex to be very ‘open’ when viewed directly, taking advantage of the extraordinary long views and maximising daylight, whilst appearing solid in oblique pedestrian views. Various metals were appraised for the fins and a group of copper alloys from Aurubis identified for long-term quality and handsome weathering.

St Andrew Square in daylight. Facade is formed by series of Nordic Royal copper alloy fins which extrude from the wall. Old stonework buildings are located behind the St Andrew Square.

Photo: Dapple Photography

St Andrew Square building in daylight. Large glass windows are gleaming in sunlight and in front of them are series of Nordic Royal copper alloy fins. Old stonework building is next to the glass windows. Geometric glass cube extrudes from the right side of the building.

Photo: Hoskins Architects and Comprehensive Design Architects (CDA)

Close detail shot of the St Andrew Square's Nordic Royal copper alloy fins. From this perspective tapered form of the fins can be seen in detail. Next to the copper fins are similar one made from stone.

Photo: Graeme Bell

St Andrew Square gleaming in sunlight. Large glass windows are shining between Nordic Royal copper alloy fins. Street is busy with pedestrian in front of the building.

Photo: Graeme Bell

St Andrew Square's exterior. Nordic Royal copper alloy fins can be seen behind the glass panel wall. Metal beams are supporting the copper fins. Old statue on the pillar is on the ground level.

Photo: Graeme Bell

Nordic Royal fins

Hoskins Architects commented:
‘The idea of a veil of fins was evident in the very earliest sketches. Their materiality, construction and integration into a glazed envelope were key preoccupations throughout the design phase. The design team and client took very seriously the responsibility of selecting the right metal for a distinctive, durable, high quality piece of architecture in such a sensitive urban context.

‘Various metals were appraised and a group of copper alloys from Aurubis identified to ensure long term quality and handsome weathering. From these we then selected Nordic Royal, an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, offering a distinctive golden colour. But we specified a bespoke degree of ionized finish to give a quick transition to a relatively matt golden hue. This material will change in subtle ways over time rather than dramatically weather, as would mill finish copper or brass. Under northern grey skies the metal offers a welcome and rich contrast to the grey/blonde sandstone of the New Town and, in low sunshine, accords with the autumnal leaves of the square’.

Finally, Nordic Royal was selected – a golden alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, giving a rich golden through-colour that is very stable. It retains its golden colour and gradually loses some of its sheen as the oxide layer thickens with exposure to the atmosphere, resulting in a protective matt finish. In order to accelerate the process for this project, Aurubis treated the Nordic Royal to give a non-reflective, brushed surface that will then change in subtle ways over time.

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