Never one to take a conventional approach to design, Thomas Weatherwick split a series of timber-framed buildings right down the middle and covered them in a very thin, crinkly steel. Commissioned by the Aberystwyth Arts Center in Wales to build small start-up creative business studios on a beautiful wooded site, the designer opted for these smaller buildings so that they would merge with the landscape more seamlessly than a single block campus.
Each building houses two artists, so Weatherwick Studio basically cut the timber-framing in half to allow natural light and ventilation to permeate the building and to create a separate entrance for each of the start-ups. But when they looked at using steel to clad these unusual spaces, the design team found it to be prohibitively costly for the University of Wales’ Aberystwth’s budget.
Instead, they purchased a very thin steel that crinkles easily, providing none of the necessary structural support or rigidity. This problem was overcome by spraying a non-CFC insulation on the crinkly side of the carefully formed cladding, which transformed it into a perfectly strong and insulated material. Far more affordable than thicker steel, it also accommodates eaves and windowsills and provides a certain amount of flexibility. Built in 2009, these beautiful art studios are fully occupied and garnered the Civic Trust Awards in 2010.