Iona Abbey on the beautiful Hebridean island of Iona has a long history of welcoming guests and has been under refurbishment with a view to extending its hospitality into the winter months with improved heating, insulation and facilities to suit people with disabilities. This is a £3.5m project funded largely by donations from across the world to The Iona Community.
The Abbey has an artistic heritage as well as a religious one and houses Scotland’s finest collection of early medieval carved stones and crosses. It is also thought that the world-famous Book of Kells was made here. Colin McNeish of WHAM Architecture has reflected this tradition by using the symbol of wild geese which form part of the Iona Community’s logo as inspiration for canopies over the entrance to the refectory, combining an artistic influence with the functional aspects of refurbishment. The architectural metalwork was constructed by Metalwork UK, specialists in structural steel and heritage projects, and an authentically aged, weathered and welcoming appearance in both colour and texture was the design vision for this part of the restorative work.
The best metals and coatings for an island environment
The designers’ original concept for the canopies and the mezzanine infills was to use Corten steel and Corten steel mesh. Metalwork UK advised that in an external environment, rainwater could cause run off and staining of the tiles, wood, flagstones or anything else underneath the Corten steel structures. Aluminium and stainless steel were discussed but both options were overly expensive and had their own disadvantages. The marine environment within which the Abbey is located made it imperative to select a metal that could be well protected against corrosion and wind-born particle abrasion; mild steel was the favoured option.
The perforated steel manufacturers, RMIG, suggested that Metalwork UK contact Powdertech to discuss a high-performance coating which would give a rusted look on the mild steel substrate used for the internal mezzanine frontage in the refectory and the lift surround. Powdertech supplied a range of samples from its ‘Rust’ collection and Evolution™/Diamond Mine was chosen, reflecting the natural rusting of steel with texture and sparkle whilst providing high performance corrosion protection. Galvanized steel was chosen for the external canopies and Powdertech could confirm that the Diamond Mine finish would produce the same effect on this metal, creating a harmonized feel for the building.
Design for full protection
In order for the pre-treatment and powder coating process to fully protect the structures, particular design aspects are always critical, including the need to eliminate any sharp edges and water traps and to ensure that jigging points are correctly positioned. The mild and galvanized steel components were primed with a zinc-rich primer before coating to give added protection. The high-performance weather resistance afforded by the Evolution finish will protect the underlying metal for twenty-five years or more.