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).
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.
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.