Extreme Zinc Saga: VMZINC on the roof of the World!


  Extreme Zinc Saga: VMZINC on the roof of the World!

Is zinc compatible with extreme cold, heavy snow cover….and 7.8 magnitude earthquakes?

After sand in the Arabian peninsula desert of Doha in Qatar, (click the link), in this post we are covering the harsh, merciless climate of the high mountains of Tibet, the country commonly referred to as the roof of the world.

The Saint-Regis hotel in Lhasa has 150 high-end rooms over a floor area of 32,000 m² at an altitude of 3,600 metres. A non-standard location which undoubtedly ranks it among the highest 5-star establishments in the world. As the only luxury establishment in the Tibet Autonomous Region, its inauguration in 2010 translates a desire to attract high-end tourism focusing on Tibetan culture to the region (over 6 million visitors per year).

An architectural style at the crossroads of western and eastern cultures

The architecture and layout of the Saint Regis hotel are inspired by the Buddhist monastery in Sera (built in 1419, at the foot of Pabuchok Mountain, 5 km north of Lhasa). In a sensitive political context, the hotel complex is a meeting point of several cultures.

Deliberately ecological in order to respond to sustainable development requirements, it uses solar and geothermal energy. Its buildings are set around a pool, a landscaping feature present in the architecture of various Asian countries. This one was designed by Jean Michel-Gathy, a Belgian architect living in Malaysia who thinks “hotels without water features are boring”.

The roof of the Saint Regis hotel – a reminder of traditional Chinese architecture – is made of zinc, installed using the traditional Parisian roll cap technique, which is a first in these latitudes!

Zinc roofing that withstood every possible constraint

Installation of this material at such a high altitude generated serious problems in terms of mechanical resistance, especially because of the considerable weight of snow cover that could potentially remove its coating.

To overcome this constraint, the zinc was installed using the concept of over-roofing (with a first layer of watertightness with an invisible membrane under the zinc roof serving as a snow-carrier) and the fixing of the roll cap joint covers was solidly reinforced.

Our technician in charge of the Asia-Pacific zone discovered the difficulties of working in high altitude (during the technical assistance phase provided with the sale of the zinc coils). And although his work was carried out during the short sunny summer season, he had to spend several days in situ before starting work in order to become accustomed to the lack of oxygen and prepare for intense physical efforts.

On 25 April 2015, we were all shocked to hear of the terrible earthquake in Nepal, whose epicentre was located just 84 km from Lhasa. Its consequences were disastrous for the region.

The modern building and roof of the Saint Regis hotel resisted very well. Without this prestigious project, it would have been impossible to confirm the extreme resistance of VMZINC to earthquakes. Our zinc will be around for a long time yet!

We will take another extreme trip this summer with VMZINC in New Caledonia!

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