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Copper Chronosphere

Arch. Chiara Mangili/Hannele Kuusisto

There are no excuses for being late in Grumello del Monte, near Bergamo in Italy, with this massive clock defined by a golden copper alloy cylinder.

The new ‘Chronosphere’ building provides a variety of modern showroom, entertainment and other areas for Serafino Consoli who specialise in exclusive jewellery, particularly watches. Architect Chiara Mangili’s iconic design was influenced by discussions with the renowned clockmaker Maisons. It consists of two circular drum forms of different diameters, clad with stone, marble and render, with distinctive areas of glazing. The vertical drums and their materials contrast with a floating horizontal, golden cylinder cutting across – it’s horizontality highlighted by a glazed strip.

The copper alloy makes clear reference to the building’s use – made even more obvious by the watch-like clock – and the circumferential raised seams joining the copper strips generate a visually strong grid highlighting the cylindrical form. Each end of the cylinder is handled differently. The southern end clock face is contained by a copper alloy ring in twelve sections, with the clock hands reaching out from a small, central window. The northern end faces the hills and is largely glazed with an open balcony area.

Golden Copper Alloy

This golden material is an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, which is very stable and keeps its golden shade over time. It behaves differently to pure copper in the environment as it has a thin protective oxide layer containing all three alloy elements when produced. As a result, the surface retains its golden colour indefinitely and simply loses some of its sheen as the oxide layer thickens with exposure to the elements, giving a matt appearance.

As well as exuding a sense of visual richness and quality, the golden alloy offers outstanding mechanical abrasion resistance, extremely high corrosion resistance and durability as well as excellent stability and material rigidity. The material can be easily cold-shaped and processed using standard techniques. 

This article was published in 30/2011 issue of Copper Architecture Forum magazine.

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