The choice of materials has played a key part in developing the building concept. The exposed seaside location will subject the building to heavy weathering, with the high salt content of the air speeding the natural degradation of all materials. With this in mind, Thomas Heatherwick opted for naturally finished materials that respond well to the local environment. The mild steel shell that forms the outer skin will rust and gain character as it ages, while an oil based coating applied after the surface has ‘weathered’ will help to prolong the life of the building. Rather than use a traditional structural method in which one part rests on another, the primary structure of the building is a ‘monocoque’ steel shell in which all parts act together, similar to the hull of a ship.
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