Famous Aluminium Structures

The physical properties of aluminium alloys make them an ideal material for construction and is particularly useful for high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. They are light, strong, corrosion and UV resistant and require minimal maintenance. An aluminium structure is stable at temperatures ranging from –80C to +300C and in any climatic conditions. Around 50 to 85% of aluminium used in construction today is recycled, making it one of the most sustainable and energy efficient construction materials available.

The most important quality aluminium offers is the ratio of strength to lightness. Aluminium plate offers the same stiffness as steel at around half the weight. As a result, an aluminium structure can be between a half to two-thirds the weight of an equivalent steel structure and up to a seventh the weight of a similar structure built with reinforced concrete. In addition, working with lighter materials is simpler and quicker.

San Gioacchino’s Church, Rome, Italy

The oldest well-known application of aluminium in construction dates back to 1898. Untreated aluminium sheeting was used to clad the ribbed octagonal dome of San Gioacchino’s Church in Rome. The original 1.3cm thick plates are still in place despite being exposed to the extremes of hot Italian summers and cold winters for over 100 years. A very impressive example of the potential longevity of an aluminium structure.

Find out more about San Gioacchino’s Church >

Image by Croberto68 at Italian Wikipedia

Aluminium clad dome - San Gioacchino’s Church, Rome

The Empire State Building, New York, US

Aluminium was expensive and so was rarely used in architecture until the early 20th century. It became popular in construction in the 1920s primarily for art deco structures in roofing, flashing and decorative details. The project that really brought aluminium to the attention of architects was when it was used for major structures within the Empire State Building in 1930-32. The tower structure and spire are partly built using aluminium, as are the elevator doors, decorative trim and over 6,000 window spandrels.

Find out more about the Empire State Building >

The Empire State Building is steel framed


Aluminaire House is a pre-fabricated house designed for the 1931 Allied Arts and Industry and Architectural League Exhibition in New York by Albert Frey and Lawrence Kocher. It was an example of mass-produced affordable housing using inexpensive materials. The three-storey steel and aluminium structure was assembled in just 10 days.

After the exhibition, it was acquired by architect Wallace Harrison for his estate in Long Island, where it remained until the 80s. In the late 80s it was saved from demolition and donated to the New York Institute of Technology on Long Island, where it was restored and reassembled. The campus closed in 2012, and the house was once again dismantled and put into storage. An organisation called the Aluminaire House Foundation has raised money to move, reassemble and open the building to the public again.

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Aluminaire House - aluminium structure


Originally known as the EMP Museum, the building designed by Frank Gehry sits at the base of the Space Needle. It is designed to look as if it is flapping in the wake of the nearby monorail. The flowing, fabric-like form lead to a new construction system known as ZEPPS (Zahner Engineered Profiled Panel System).

ZEPPS consists of a supporting aluminium structure, clad in a layer of sheet metal. An outer metal layer, in this case a combination of steel and aluminium, completes the assembly. It is a very efficient way of producing complex forms with minimal waste. MoPOP was completed in 2000 and the process continues to be a favoured method for constructing buildings with a sculptural form.

Image by Cacophony – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Find out more about the Mopop Museum >

Mopop Museum, Seattle

The Wave, Almere, Holland

The Wave is a residential development in the town of Almere, Holland designed by René van Zuuk and completed in 2004. The wave shape of the building reflects its lakeside location and is an excellent example of a modern aluminium structure. The seven storey building contains 49 apartments, all with living rooms that look out over Weerwater Lake, a small artificial lake used for recreation. Aluminium was chosen for the exterior panels because of its corrosion resistance in the salty, humid climate in an area where much of the land has been reclaimed from the sea.

Find out more about the Wave >

The Wave, Almere - aluminium clad

Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt, Germany

The Commerzbank Tower stands at 259 meters (850ft) and is a dominant feature of the Frankfurt skyline. It was the tallest building in Europe from its completion in 1997 until 2003, when it was overtaken by the Triumph Palace in Moscow.

It is considered the first ‘ecological’ skyscraper due to its energy-saving technologies and sky gardens. Exterior rain screens are made of anodised aluminium panels and opening internal aluminium windows and aluminium extrusions frame the outer skin of the façade, to enable natural ventilation.

Find out more about the Commerzbank Tower >

Commerzbank Tower, Franfurt

Farnborough Airport, Farnborough, UK

Farnborough Airport is a former military aerodrome and research station, now a private airport and home to a world famous air show. The futuristic control tower, terminal and hangar transformed the site when it opened in 2006. The terminal and operations building were designed to offer grandstand views of the activities of the airport, and are inspired by airship interiors, ocean liners and early art deco airport buildings.

The 5,000sqm terminal building consists of a two storey office and operations ‘wing’ clad in aluminium shingles which appears to hover over the glazed ground floor which consists of customer lounges and conference rooms. The terminal weighs just 350 tonnes, that’s 50 tonnes lighter than a Boeing 747 ready for take-off.

Image by MilborneOneOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Find out more about Farnborough Airport >

Farnborough Airport - aluminium structure

Titanic Museum, Belfast, NI

The Titanic Museum stands at 126 feet (38 m) high, the same height as Titanic’s hull. It has a very distinctive profile; four hulls surround the five storey central atrium. These four hulls are clad in 3000 silver anodised aluminium panels housing nine galleries. Located on the site of the shipyard where the ill-fated ship was built, the building was designed to reflect the history of the site as well as being inspired by water crystals, ice, and the White Star Line’s logo. The museum opened in 2012, 100 years after the ship sank and is the centrepiece of the recently regenerated area of Belfast known as The Titanic Quarter.

Find out more about the Titanic Museum >

Titanic Museum Belfast - aluminium panels


A very different example of an aluminium structure to the others in this article, is the statue of Anteros ‘The God of Selfless Love’ situated in Piccadilly Circus, London. This is a memorial to the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. Erected in 1893, it was the first statue in the world to be cast in aluminium. The extreme displacement of the figure’s centre of gravity would not have been possible using bronze, only the lightness and tensile strength of aluminium made it possible.

Find out more about the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain >

Piccadilly Circus Fountain

Today virtually every new building uses aluminium. High ductility means that aluminium can be formed easily into shapes and profiles as well as being laser cut. Its corrosion and UV resistance make it excellent for exterior panels and cladding systems and the lightness makes it easy to transport, manoeuvre into position and support as part of a structure.

We stock and laser cut aluminium up to 20mm thick. If you need any aluminium laser cut for your construction projects, please contact our sales team sales@lasered.co.uk, or if you have any enquiries call 01376 327182.

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Famous steel structures

A large proportion of the steel sheet and plate we cut is used in the construction industry. Steel has been integral to some of the most innovative and iconic structures since the late 1800s, long before the laser cutting process was developed.

High Volume Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is the perfect production method for the high-volume production of metal components due to the speed, accuracy and efficiency of the process. You will receive parts of consistent quality and finish with intricate cutting possible, even in thick metal plate.

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