Pleasing patination

Revisit: Operations Building, Baden-Baden

galvanized-steel-facadeOne of the first facade projects in Germany to use hot dip galvanized steel was the Rheinpolders Söllingen-Greffern operations centre. It was commissioned in 2005 and was designed by the architects Günter Leonhardt & Associates.
The Rhine Polder at Söllingen-Greffern, near Baden-Baden, has a flood plain which can take 12 million cubic metres of water from the Rhine during periods of flooding. It forms part of a programme for reducing the flood risk for cities and towns down stream. To protect the operation at high water, about 100 structures were erected in 2005, ranging from simple gaps within embankments to a central control station so that water can be pumped out of the river if levels were too high.

The water arriving over the land side from the tributaries of the Rhine, or at the Wörth and Acher trench, is pumped into the flood plain of the polder over the embankments.

All the structures of the Rhine Polder form part of an overall design concept within which galvanizing has played a central role.

This was particularly true of the central control station, the pumping stations, and the smaller local technical buildings. Since the structures lie mainly away from populated areas, they were built to be robust and vandal-proof, so that the technical apparatus could be guaranteed the necessary protection even when operating personnel were
not present.


Günter Leonhardt & Associates integrated the buildings into the embankment structures. The architecture thus become an integral part of the structure, and combines with the surrounding Rhine landscape.

An inspection of the centre by the Institut Feuerverzinken in April 2016, included inspection of the exterior facade for the operations building. The cladding is in excellent condition after 11 years with no signs of distress to the coating.

Thickness measurements revealed a zinc coating thickness of 65-75 micrometres, which should provide a further 50 years of protection (60 years in total). Photographs taken during the inspection show a pleasing patinated zinc surface which after 11 years’ exposure to the elements, has a significantly more matt appearance, as can be seen in a before-and-after comparison.

Architect: Günter Leonhardt & Associates

Image: Günter Leonhardt & Associates, Hildebrandt

Posted on January 18, 2017 by Galvanizers Association

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