Pushing the Boundaries of Curb Appeal: Unconventional Uses of Corten Steel

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Pushing the Boundaries of Curb Appeal: Unconventional Uses of Corten Steel

By: Jackie Edwards, Landscape Designer

Ever considered that a material used by builders could also strike an artist’s fancy? This is where corten steel–a unique alloy, steps in, breezily smashing such boundaries. Renowned for its remarkable resistance to corrosion, it continues to be an artist’s ally for outdoor installations, handling Mother Nature’s mood swings in stride.  No need for pampering or high maintenance–corten steel’s protective patina layer embraces the wrath of weather, regenerating itself like a phoenix rising from the ashes, ensuring the aesthetics of your home or business exterior remain untouched. 

But the perks don’t stop there–being economical, sustainable and easily recyclable gives corten steel a shiny badge of eco-material honor. For those favoring a blend of beauty and responsibility in their designs, corten steel is a top candidate. Here are some unconventional ways this versatile material can be used to push the boundaries of curb appeal

Building Renovations

To see the unique, visually captivating nature of corten steel at work, check out what the London-based firm, Haworth Tompkins, achieves with an abandoned house located on the Dovecote Studio musical campus. The firm renovated a two-story brick dovecote home, whose crumbling brickwork was well-known to musicians and music lovers. The designers covered the structure in corten steel, combining the smooth material with the charming crumbling bricks to its die. The steel’s reddish shade formed a beautiful complement to the bricks, and the result is a building that evokes the spirit of the old home while having a new, vibrant feel.

A Veil for a Building

One of the most unique uses of corten steel in recent times can be viewed in the Ferretería O´Higgins building, which houses offices, services, and storage space for tools used in the mining industry. The main building is surrounded by corten steel double skin, which protects the inside of the building from direct light and maintains a pleasant temperature indoors (an air chamber was fitted between the steel and the interior insulated panel facade). The steel seemingly changes its hue at different times of the day owing to the effect of the sunlight, changing from ocher to brown and even a vivid orange. Perforated corten steel sheets are used to create a delicate veil that allows employees to look outside, without having to brave the harshness of the midday sunlight.

Sustainable Art Installations

Sustainable art is the perfect way to protect the planet while also highlighting the aesthetics of eco-friendly materials. Recycled steel is one sustainable metal that is thought to save around 1.85 metrics tons of CO2 per ton of production, compared to regular steel. Companies making this material not only recycle it, but also typically adopt energy-saving practices and make it a point to reduce waste and emissions. Many factories are powered by solar energy, thus significantly reducing their carbon footprint. Corten steel is a material that lends itself easily to recycling, producing metal of various thickness levels in accordance with artists’ needs. 

A fine example of how stunning steel can be in artistic designs is the beautiful installation at the Greenough Regional Prison in Western Australia. The project managers were interested in using a material that would be able to easily weather harsh winds and the hot sun. They purchased 6mm corten steel sheets and asked indigenous artist, Bruce Badfield, to produce six panels referencing the natural beauty of the surrounding nature. The result was Rockface Country—a series of standalone panels, each of which bears a unique cutout design and frames a specific part of the landscape. 

For more examples of Corten steel artwork, see the World War I memorial in Leyland, or the enormous modern work, The Picasso, located in Chicago. One work which is particularly dazzling is called Human Circle by Pete Moorhouse. It features a circular design comprising men seemingly standing on each other’s shoulders and curving backwards to form a spherical structure. 

Vertical Striations

The Corten House by DMOA Architecten in Belgium is fantastic example of how corten steel can define space and mark off boundaries or open spaces up as needed. The house features a series of steel lamellae that design the building while also shaping the landscape. In the home, the lamellae is welded on a perforated plate. In the garden, meanwhile, single lamellae stand proudly. Corten steel is also used to make a unique garage gate.

Corten steel is sustainable, recyclable, and ready for use in a host of settings. Some of its unique uses include the restoration of old buildings, the creation of artworks, and the use of lamellae to divide and open up spaces. The sky is truly the limit with this strong yet beautiful material that stands the test of time.

Contact Central Steel Service for Corten Steel 

Interested in using corten steel to boost curb appeal? Central Steel Service stocks high-strength, corrosion-resistant cor-ten steel across several categories and in a variety sizes. Contact one of our experienced sales associates to learn more!