Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper from Aurubis forms part of the restrained palette of natural materials defining the new St John’s Primary School, Ealing, London, designed by Conran and Partners with detailed design by executive architecture practice Gibberd.
Conran and Partners’ idea for a new school grew out of their proposals for the ongoing regeneration of Green Man Lane estate. With an exchange of land, the existing school could remain operational while a new one was constructed. Configured as a three-storey structure, the new school building sits along the site boundary edge, creating a strong street form and conveying a mature learning environment while giving the school its own distinct identity.
The entrance is demarcated by a floating, oblique form – clad in Nordic Brown copper with defined vertical seams – informing the design detail throughout. A glazed corner provides transparency and signifies both the main school entrance and the circulation axis through the building. The strong vertical emphasis of the street elevation will set the school apart from the proposed neighbouring residential components of the development.
A restrained palette of natural materials has been selected throughout the new school – from weathered buff brick to the Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper – to reinforce the design narratives. These materials provide robustness and warmth, while blending seamlessly with the material palette of the wider masterplan for Green Man Lane estate.
Nordic Brown products are pre-oxidised at the Aurubis factory to give straightaway the same oxidised brown surface that otherwise develops over time in the environment. The thickness of the oxide layer determines the colour – either Nordic Brown Light or the darker Nordic Brown – and the darkening oxidisation process continues in the natural environment.
Other Nordic Copper surfaces include Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’. Nordic Green and Nordic Blue are factory-applied patinas developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. Essentially, they enable designers to determine both the colour and intensity of patina for each project with ‘living’ surfaces: as well as a solid patina colour, other intensities can be created revealing some of the dark oxidised background material.