Iona Abbey on the beautiful Hebridean island of Iona has a long history of welcoming guests for the day or for longer retreats and would like to be able to extend hospitality into the winter months with improved heating, insulation and facilities to suit people with disabilities.  Since 2018, the 13th Century Benedictine Abbey has been under refurbishment, 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. 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 authentic aged, weathered and welcoming appearance in both colour and texture was envisaged.

A change of plan

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 would cause run off and staining of the flagstones on the pathway and anything else under the canopies. 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 and mild steel was the favoured option.

The best metals and coatings for an island environment

Powdertech was involved at an early stage in the project. The perforated steel manufacturers, RMIG, suggested that Metalwork UK contact us to discuss a high performance coating which would give the rusted look of Corten on the mild steel substrate to be used for the internal mezzanine frontage in the refectory and the lift surround. We supplied a range of samples from our ‘Rust’ collection and Evolution™/Diamond Mine was chosen, reflecting the natural rusting of steel with texture and sparkle whilst providing high performance corrosion protection. This was shown to WHAM architects who approved it for use in place of Corten.

We were asked whether the Diamond Mine shade would look the same on galvanized steel which was to be used for the external canopies and we were able answer yes, that despite the differing substrates, the finish would create a harmonized feel to the building.

In order for the pre-treatment and powder coating process to fully protect the structures, particular design aspects were pointed out, including the need to eliminate all sharp edges and water traps and to ensure that jigging points were correctly positioned. The mild and galvanized steel components were primed with a zinc-rich primer before coating to give added protection.

Benefits of Evolution Finishes

  • High performance weather resistance
  • A wide range of effects to reflect the patinas that occur naturally on metals
  • Excellent visual and tactile detail
  • Good edge coverage
  • All powders are Qualicoat class 1or 2
  • Leaves no residue or stain
  • Up to twenty-five year guarantee.
  • Powdertech’s flexible plant can coat a wide variety of shapes and sizes of architectural metal work and fabrications.






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