The Moon Art Centre, Mechelen, Belgium designed by import.export Architecture


At the heart of the renovation and upgrading of ‘the Moon’ children’s art centre in the Belgian city of Mechelen is a small theatre complex – a golden cube defined by its extraordinary, creased Nordic Royal copper alloy cladding.

The project’s designers – Antwerp based import.export Architecture – were inspired by associations of ‘the Moon’ with the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and its crumpled golden metal underside. This aesthetic is presented as a contemporary reflection on the intricate stone tracery of the neighbouring medieval cathedral tower, although being achieved within a modest budget.

Experimenting with folds

The architects worked with specialist fabricators Ridder experimenting with pressing and folding flat metal over a blade, resulting in a series of gentle creases – almost, but not quite, 3-D. Then, seven different designs of Nordic Royal golden copper alloy panels were produced using press moulds, each with folds running across at various angles and intensities.

By rotating and intermingling different panels a rich, random effect was created. The verticality of the overlapping panels is retained, giving structure to the facades, but most transverse joints are not horizontal, further fragmenting the surface. Some panels utilise perforated Nordic Royal, adding an element of transparency.

“Different designs of Nordic Royal golden copper alloy panels were produced using press moulds, each with folds running across at various angles and intensities”

Discover Nordic Copper

Nordic Royal is an innovative alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, giving a rich golden through-colour that is very stable. The surface retains its golden colour and simply loses some of its sheen as the oxide layer thickens with exposure to the atmosphere, resulting in a protective matt finish. It behaves differently to other Nordic Copper products over time and does not develop a blue or green patina. Other Nordic Copper alloys include Nordic Bronze and Nordic Brass – also available pre-weathered.

Nordic Copper surfaces include Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’, as well as Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper giving either light or dark brown oxidisation that otherwise takes time to develop in the environment. Nordic Blue Nordic Green and Nordic Turquoise factory-applied patinas are also available – developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. As well as the solid blue or green patina colours, other intensities of patina flecks can be created revealing some of the dark oxidised background material giving a ‘living’ surface. A wide choice of Nordic Decor mechanically applied surface treatments is also available.

Photos: Filip Dujardin

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