The visual appeal and longevity of zinc roofing and cladding has been demonstrated over more than two centuries, says Jonathan Lowy, Operational Marketing Manager at VMZINC

In association with


Since zinc was first used as a roofing material in 1809 it has been considered as an attractive and durable product and as such is often used on buildings which require a high level of aesthetics combined with a long service life.

The Covid crisis has generated many discussion points but one of them is how we look at urban density and indeed question the need for London to be such an overpowering hub. Reinvigorating provincial towns and retro fitting some of their noble buildings has again become a major consideration.


Liverpool Central Library, renovated by Austin Smith Lord

Whilst zinc clad buildings are found in major cities and indeed Baron Haussmann’s massive renovation of Paris in the middle of the 19th Century was a major boost for the use of zinc, architects have often combined their designs with zinc giving buildings in more provincial towns a sense of quality somewhat akin to the great Victorian civic buildings. An excellent example of this is Liverpool Central Library and specifically the Picton reading room which was originally built in 1879 and included a zinc roof. Austin Smith Lord carried out a very extensive extension and retrofit and after 133 years of service the Natural zinc batten cap roof was replaced with a QUARTZ-ZINC roof with a combination of batten caps and standing seams.


Top, above: Galerie d’Art, Krems, designed by Marte Marte Architects

Moving forward to the 21st century, the small town in Krems in Austria which sits on the river Danube combined a bold architectural vision with political will to create an outstanding art gallery for the area. AZENGAR shingles were the perfect solution for the twisting geometry of the building. Marte Marte Architects’ design is a dynamic structure which is as much sculpture as building and gives a real sense movement to the visitor.


Wismar housing by Staehr and Partners

Four hundred miles to the North in the German town of Wismar the old port which is a Unesco world heritage site is characterised by warehouse buildings. Staehr and Partners have created a mixed-use project by using QUARTZ-ZINC standing seam roofing on this combination of old and new in this high quality regeneration scheme.


North Shields housing by Simpson Haugh Architects

In a not entirely different context, Simpson Haugh Architects designed a development of 80 homes in North Shields which is part of the wider regeneration of the Smiths shipyard. The design again is from a local derivation with the inspiration coming from the adjacent Brewery Bond warehouse. PIGMENTO Red PLUS standing seam roofing and cladding panels complement the brick of the old warehouse.

In Bracknell which is 30 miles west of London, Piper Whitlock Architecture worked on the regeneration project where one of the town’s few listed buildings, The Bull pub was being renovated and extended. Within a few square metres, the architectural history of the town can be visited with the most recent addition being a dramatic curved ANTHRA-ZINC PLUS standing seam roof and wall.


The Bull pub in Bracknell by Piper Whitlock Architecture


Clinic at Rodez by CL Architecture

Moving back to the continent, in the small southern French town of Rodez, CL Architecture designed a health clinic with a façade that interacts with its environment with perforated AZENGAR panels creating semi abstract images.


The Engine Shed, Stirling

Finally back in the UK high quality designs using zinc but not always in the most exclusive of geographical areas are summed up by The Engine Shed in Stirling. Historic Environment Scotland have created an education centre with conservation at the forefront. The retrofit of the old engine shed includes an ANTHRA-ZINC PLUS clad roof and wall that beautifully blends with the original materials.

The quality of the built environment in smaller towns and cities may be more in the spotlight in the coming months and year and as always good design combined with sustainability will be vital. For over 200 years zinc has been used to clad buildings not only for its aesthetic appeal but also its durability, limited maintenance and ease of recyclability.

Click here to see detailed case studies of recent zinc roofing projects.

To find out more about zinc roofing and VMZINC, book a Riba-approved CPD, register interest, or even just ask a question, please email or call 0203 445 5640.