Black pigments for the world’s northernmost whisky distillery

The new storage building of the world’s northernmost gin and whisky distillery looks at first glance as if boarded with old charred wooden planks. In reality, the barrel storage building has a raven-black pigmented, textured concrete façade. The façade, which was awarded the Finnish Concrete Architecture Prize, is colored with inorganic pigments carrying the Bayferrox brand from the Lanxess Specialty Chemicals Group. The stylish building was designed by Avanto Architects of Helsinki (Avanto Arkkitehdit Oy).

Everything began with a “hair-brained idea”: five Finnish friends founded, on a sauna raft, the Kyrö Distillery Company, which in 2014 started business in an old dairy factory. The distillery already won many international awards and the fame led to rapidly growing demand – the existing production capacities were becoming insufficient. Kyrö then organized an invitation competition for the overall design of the old dairy site. Avanto Architects was chosen to design a masterplan as well as several new buildings and for converting the historic buildings on the new factory grounds. In the first step, the team from Helsinki built a 1,056 m² black storage building in the middle of the forest, inspired by traditional wooden barns. Four halls of identical construction are to follow.


Challenging storage facilities

Barrel storage is not only a storage area, but part of the production process as well. Before whisky can be called whisky at all, the spirits must be stored in oak barrels for at least three years. Large storage capacities must accordingly first be made available, even if it cannot be estimated whether the product will sell well. The strict fire protection regulations for barrel storage facilities posed another challenge. Whisky is a liquid classified as inflammable. For that reason, the storage hall had to be sub-divided into five sections, each one of them provided with precisely monitored room climate. The individual areas are regulated to maintain suitable temperature and air humidity. The amount of ethanol that vaporizes in the air is monitored with utmost precision to prevent the danger of explosion.

The façade of the barrel storage building was inspired by the wooden barns typical of the region. The external wall structure consists of conventional 4.5 to 6 m x 3 m sandwich elements with an external reinforced-concrete shell 105 cm thick, stainless steel reinforcement, 150 mm polyurethane insulation and an 80-mm internal reinforced-concrete shell. As exposure classes, the planners had specified XC3/4 and XF1.

The special feature of the building is its external shell, which has the special charm of east bothnian planked flooring. For the production of the façade elements, the Finnish precaster had consulted the form manufacturer Finn-Form. Instead of freshly sawn wood, the formliners were modelled on the planks of a disassembled barn. Suitable pieces were chosen and assembled with as few repetitions as possible.

All loose material was removed from the barn planks and then reinforced with a resin coating, converted into a negative form and finally embedded into the form. The two different forms 1,500 mm x 4,500 mm in size, normal and/or turned upside down, create a pattern that is repeated every 6 meters. For production of the formliners, nearly 1,000 kg of epoxy resin were ordered from France.


Black concrete is the royal discipline

“Originally, the concrete elements were to be manufactured with colored concrete and later, at the construction site, finished with a darker shade,” reports Oliver Fleschenträger, Market Segment Manager for Construction in the Inorganic Pigments Division of Lanxess. “After a few castings, the deep black Lanxess Bayferrox 360 pigment was used with a dosing of 5 % pigment – in this way, no subsequent coatings needed to be applied.

The use of inorganic iron-oxide pigments in concrete and/or the implementation of individual coloring concepts requires basic technical and application-specific knowhow – especially with black pigments. “The preparation of really black concrete is the royal discipline,” emphasizes Fleschenträger. Whether the concrete, in a hardened state, has the desired color shade depends not only on the quality and mixture of the color pigment, but also on the cement type and the aggregates used. “This process requires practical experience with the interactions involved,” emphasizes Fleschenträger.

Also in execution of the barrel storage, the planners obtained specific support from the pigment manufacturer. The concrete aggregate used for this project, owing to tight cost constraints, was quite a common choice (K-40), in addition to a white cement from the Finnish company Finnsementti Oy as binder, which further emphasizes the color shade. The result speaks for itself: the colored and textured concrete deceptively imitates weathered material wood. In late 2019, the architects were awarded the Finnish Concrete Façade Architect Prize for the new barrel storage building of the Kyrö Distillery. “The expressive façade of the barrel vault is not only a perfect solution, but is part of a functional product unit whose design and implementation, in an exemplary manner, satisfy all requirements for good architecture and construction,” summarized the chairman of the jury, Tuomo Hahl.

Lanxess Deutschland GmbH
Kennedyplatz 1
50569 Cologne/Germany
+49 221 8885-0

Related articles:

Issue 2013-05 Lanxess AG

Black pigments for coloring concrete

The specialty chemicals group Lanxess has expanded its product portfolio of black pigments for coloring construction materials. The new powder pigment Bayferrox TP LXS 5253 is suitable for use in all...

Issue 2013-07 Lanxess

Elegance in black

The specialty chemicals group Lanxess has expanded its product portfolio of black pigments for coloring construction products with powder-type Bayferrox TP LXS 5253 and granule Bayferrox TP LXS 5255....

Issue 2013-01 Lanxess AG

Colored Concrete Works Award for Chipperfield

Henceforth, the specialty chemicals group Lanxess intends to reward architects, who have especially encouraged the use of color in concrete buildings, with the Colored Concrete Works Award once a...

Issue 2015-04 Lanxess

Colored Concrete Works Award 2015

At the end of February, specialty chemicals company Lanxess held a ceremony in Berlin to present its second Colored Concrete Works Award to an architect who has set new standards in the use of colored...


C&G Pigment: European subsidiary established

C&G Pigment, a leading marketing company for inorganic pigments, has registered a subsidiary in Leverkusen, Germany. The company establishes a European presence to market its product portfolio from...