The copper work uses .06 and .08 gauge sheet material in predominantly two different forms of roof construction. Each of the elements is subject to the domestic scale of the architecture and is therefore intricate and intimate in its detail - shedding weather and rainwater through the onsite form-making of gullies, channels and drips that is almost geological in its dendritic patterns formed by tracing water to the ground.
There are three principal ways in which copper is used in this project. Perhaps the most unusual, is the sheathing of asymmetrical roof rooms that are derived from the rooms constructed on the ‘leads” of Tudor country houses, used for playing cards, dining or flirting. Similarly, the rooms at Walmer Yard are used for pleasure, designed in a completely different architectural language from the rest of the development.
The rooms were formed from scanned models, and constructed in a similar way to a boat, with ribs and countering timber skins. Because of their yurt-like shape, the gentle faceting of the three-dimensional curved surfaces was retained and emphasised by copper sheathing. A ‘cold roof’ construction, associated with standing seams, could not be used, as the build-up would have masked the gentleness of the architectural forms. Instead, the pod-like rooms were sheathed with 225mm square diagonal tiles, which were bent to fit the facets and folds of the constructed surfaces. It required the craftsman to judge on site the requisite gauge and pitch of the diagonally laid copper tile. The protection of the timber structure and cavities was achieved by laying specialist breathable membranes. Where the diagonal tile-work became too shallow for weatherproofing, a copper margin was introduced to separate the standing seam of the roof curvature from the tile pattern below.
The fourth house in the development was constructed from three pyramidal forms, of differing sizes and sun aspects. Formed from self-supporting cross-laminated timber, the roof was skinned using standing seam copper, with eaves, gutters and changing geometries reaching up to the top lit roof glazing. These snorkels, facing different sun aspects, are understood as an ensemble of forms and animate the roofline of the courtyard serving the four houses. Seen from above, the copper work traces the form of the house through its changing gutter systems that span between light-wells and the copper-clad entry canopy of the house.
Each front door has an enlarged push plate in copper as part of a viewing panel assembly. This plate contains door-bell, locking escutcheon, and purpose-made pull handle in copper and brass which hides a letter plate. The copper of the face plate folds into the aperture of the letter box forming a diagonal slot through the section of the door, enabling letters to be posted into a leather pouch behind.
Two of the houses facing the courtyard have surface-mounted fascia gutters in copper 400mm deep on timber carcassing. These box gutters are shaped to falls, forming a cornice to the shutters below. The underside of the gutter forms a belly that projects in front of the window as a hopper, connecting with a copper down- pipe that similarly crosses the window on its way to the ground. The nature and construction of the copperware means that rainwater can be heard trickling through the system of copper pipes in the manner of a weather register.