Angular rusted-steel facade wrapped round an
old house in a rural town by Möhn + Bouman

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This office building in the Netherlands was designed for property developers called Orangerock, so architects Möhn + Bouman gave it a faceted orange facade made from sheets of pre-rusted steel (+ slideshow).

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

Located in the town of Emmen, the building forms part of a site that Orangerock plans to develop in the next ten years. The client asked Dutch architects Möhn + Bouman to convert an abandoned house into a short-term office until then.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

"The temporary character of the design allowed us to refrain from renovation and adapting," said the architects. "Instead we designed a Corten steel screen that masks the old building."

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

The new weathered-steel facade wraps around the front and sides of the former house, completely hiding the original architecture behind an asymmetric volume with a large tinted-glass shopfront.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

Strips of lighting sit within narrow recesses in the walls, intended by the architects to look like raindrops. Gutters are hidden behind the facade, while one section has been cut away to avoid colliding with a group of large rocks.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

"The abstraction of the material and details emphasises the folded geometry," added the architects.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

The interior of the house was cleaned but most spaces were left intact, apart from a series of recent extensions that have been removed.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

Photography is by Sarah Blee.

Here's a project description from Möhn Bouman Architects:


Steel Screen, Emmen, Netherlands

The project is situated in a former rural town that grew over the last decades into a medium-sized regional city. As a result of this process large parts of the city are transforming gradually towards a more urban character. The client is an innovative project developer, keen to play an active role in this process. Recently they acquired a piece of land close to the city centre for future redevelopment. On the site some old buildings with a rural character can still be found. Once the redevelopment takes place, expected within ten years, these buildings will be demolished. Until that moment the developer decided to use one of them, an old house, as his office.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

The challenge was to design an intervention to turn the house in a more representative office. The temporary character of the design allowed us to refrain from renovation and adapting. Instead we designed a Corten steel screen that masks the old building. Corten steel rapidly develops an equal layer of rust which protects it from further decay.

As a start the building was stripped of more recent extensions and cleaned. Precise measurements were then taken and translated into a 3D drawing, providing the basis for the design. The measurements included some large rocks that were found on the site, residues of the ice age, placed at a corner of the house.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman

Based on the resulting 3D files the steel of the screen was completely computer-cut, allowing a sophisticated detailing. In the roof small strips of blue light were introduced, like raindrops, and the name of the client was cut out of the steel. To blend with the rusted steel a special glass laminate was developed, combining coated glass and color layers. The abstraction of the material and details are emphasising the folded geometry, which in turn reacts on the shape of the house. To prevent staining the glass, rusty water from the roof is guided to a hidden gutter. The gutter ends above a massive rock, gradually turning into an Orange Rock over the years.

Corten steel office facade by Möhn + Bouman
Construction template

Location: Emmen, the Netherlands
Client: Orangerock Projectontwikkeling
Design: 2011
Status: completed
Architect: Möhn Bouman Architects

  • Pablo Galicer

    What, no pictures from the interior?

  • Concerned Citizen

    So 1970s.

  • Rui Pedro
  • Gary Walmsley

    What’s the fascination with rusted steel facades? I think they are hideous. They fleck off dirty particles, and anything that brushes up against gets an ugly red-brown stain. Really, I don’t get it. Awful trend.