The Modern Wing at the Art Insitute of Chicago
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French City Center Revitalized By Copper Woven Metal Mesh

A northern coastal city in France is home to a new historic symbol clad in copper HT metal mesh. The new School of Art located in Calais, France was constructed by local architecture firm, ARC.AME Urban Architects. The city has seen a revival as a result of the building’s composition, which is delicately designed around the original architecture of the town. The design of the historic city center in the port town allows for dense mixed-use environments. The building offers a school program that is open to the public, freely accessible galleries, and also room for 25 duplex apartments arranged like houses on the rooftop. The public gallery spaces and the terraces off each apartment share a central courtyard, linking the residences and the university programs. Calais, France experiences less urban migrating and more suburban sprawl, a reverse than in most cities. The town center is designed to attract new residence attracted to qualities an urban mixed-use building offers. Contrasting the woven copper mesh from HT on each side of the new structure, are the commercial mall buildings that have been around for ages. The structure experiences sun shading as the vibrant mesh filters daylight, protecting the galleries from direct sun exposure. Not only does the mesh protect against harsh direct sunlight, it also holds up to coastal environments where heavy winds and damp salty air are no match for the HT metal mesh. The durability of the material is also due to a bronze surface coating applied to the project’s custom Escale. The mesh configuration used for the project went through many tests until the perfect indoor lighting results were achieved. The signature street appeal is made possible using copper curtains in custom single pieces, without any small sections required. ARC.AME Urban Architects claim their greatest success of the project to be the solar shading the HT material offers. Great attention was paid to the quality of light on the interior of the building and within the gallery. The material helps to reduce light by diffusing sun light all across the galleries and apartments.  At night there is a gorgeous visual transparency lit up from within. Everything lived up to the architect’s expectations and the metal curtains used in the project played a major role.

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