COPPER

Copper has a specific hue and shine to it.

Copper is a naturally occurring element that was used by some of the oldest civilizations on record. People probably discovered how to mine copper about 11,000 years ago, and a wide variety of cool stuff has been made out of copper ever since. Copper’s name comes from the Latin word “cuprum,” which actually translates roughly to “from the island of Cyprus.” Cyprus was where the Romans acquired most of their copper about 7,000 years ago.

Copper is super valuable. Copper possesses high electrical conductivity. It is soft and malleable. It is also a key mineral that keeps the human body running. You can find amounts of copper in sunflower seeds, lima beans, and mushrooms, among quite a few other things to eat; which is sort of weird to think about, but true.

There is copper in pennies. In fact, any penny made after 1983 is composed of 97.5% zinc; and copper-plated. Before 1982, pennies were made of 95% copper, and these ones actually weigh a bit more.

One of the most phenomenal places to find copper is in architectural structures. Copper has earned an exalted role in the fields of architecture, building construction, and interior design. It is malleable and soft; but that doesn’t stop this metal from creating strong and complex structures. It is durable and can last for years. It is a flexible material; and can be used to create spaces few other materials can be used for.

A famed aspect of copper that makes it architecturally notable is the manner in which the metal oxidizes when it interacts with oxygen. This means that anytime copper is exposed to atmospheric elements - air, rain, wind - the oxidization process occurs and aids in creating an oxide-sulfate patina. The patina is actually a highly protectant layer; making the copper stronger and more durable.

Copper goes through stages of oxidization that take years. In the first stage, bright copper will transform to a dull tan color. After a few years; it will change to a dark brown or black hue. Eventually, the copper will take on the green hue it is known for due to the formation of copper sulfate, carbonate and chloride salts in varying concentrations. The resulting texture and color is coveted by many the world over; and found in some of the most heralded architectural treasures, from ancient times to the present.

Copper is metal. It’s tough, resistant, and shiny. It is also dynamic and lively, super malleable, conforming to the needs of the job its performing at will, interacting with its environment and letting the atmosphere shape its composition. Copper is not alive, but it knows a bit about growth, innovation and evolution.