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Fabric of Life: Granite® HDX allows Arcus College to reach for the sky

Arcus College in Heerlen (the Netherlands) provides vocational training for up to 4,000 students each year. The College completed construction of its new campus at the end of 2014 using Granite® HDX from ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products. By utilising Granite® HDX, the architect achieved the unique combination of colour and finish the customer required, but at a significantly lower cost.

IAA Architecten initially designed the building to be completed in a gold-coloured aluminium facade which is highly fashionable, but found everywhere across the Netherlands. Instead Jack Muller BV, a leading steel service centre in the Netherlands, proposed a truly unique solution – ArcelorMittal’s Granite® HDX in a champagne-gold finish.

Guarantee unmatched by alternative materials

Granite® HDX comes with a guarantee of up to 35 years thanks to its 55 micron coating. “This guarantee was highly attractive to both IAA Architecten and the customer, and could not be matched by the proposed aluminium solution,” notes Anita van Stiphout, commercial manager at Jack Muller BV which sourced the Granite® HDX coils from ArcelorMittal and cut them into sheets. Jack Muller BV then sent the cut sheets to ZND Nedicom who arranged for them to be finished in Germany.

The Arcus campus is conceived as a Venetian square – where all six buildings face onto a common, central courtyard. Every building has its own identity thanks to the unique colours used in the window frames of each one.

While each building appears separate, they are actually connected below street level. Two patios, separated by a theatre, enable students to move between the buildings and access common areas such as the cafeteria. The architectural concept created by IAA Architecten was in response to the natural conditions of the site which features a height difference of four metres between its lowest and highest points.

Reaching for the sky

The high-quality painting system used to create Granite® HDX is designed for roofing, cladding and architectural applications in harsh climatic or environmental conditions. That robustness made it possible to give the panels a finish which mimics standing seams, but provides the building with its own identity.

Each panel was created in a complex pressing operation. “The architect chose this look to create a unique design,” says Jack Muller, director and owner of Jack Muller BV. “It was created in a single step by a specialised company in Germany. The resulting long lines look like they are reaching for the sky, emphasising the strength and height of the buildings.” The lines also give the panels uniformity, further reinforcing the cohesive look across the entire site.

Another factor that swung the decision in favour of Granite® HDX was cost explains Coen van Gorp, key account manager for ArcelorMittal in the Netherlands: “Normally when someone proposes an alternative material to an architect it is more expensive, but the Granite® HDX solution we suggested was more cost effective.”

Living colour adds complexity

Colour flexibility was also very important for the architect. The champagne-gold colour used to coat the Granite® HDX changes subtly in different lights, adding complexity to the building facade. “It’s a living colour, not a flat metallic surface,” notes Glenn Muller, chief technical officer. “The colour had to be created by ArcelorMittal, so it was completely unique and makes the Arcus College campus stand out. The architect and builder ZND Nedicom only approved the finish after the third colour match.”

“Everyone is impressed by the colour and the material,” notes Coen van Gorp. “That was only possible thanks to the magnificent teamwork between all parties involved.” It’s a sentiment that is echoed by Glenn Muller: “The architect would not have opted for Granite® HDX without the support of ArcelorMittal, Jack Muller BV, and ZND Nedicom. We are very proud to have been involved in creating such a beautiful, practical, and durable building.”