Article from RoofLink magazine by Mary Rean
A beautiful decorative copper dome dominating the roof of a contemporary home in the center of Auckland's Herne Bay is an eye-catching and unusual sight, but designing and installing it is all in a day's work fro copper and lead roofing specialist and crafts person Stephen Markham.
English born Markham began his working career at the age of 16 as a plumbing apprentice, and by 21 he had acquired three City and Guilds London Institutes certificates- the premier UK qualification for craftsmen.
"We learned the traditional methods," he says. "Then I did a second artists' apprenticeship under Richard (Dick) Murdoch, author of the lead sheet manuals, which are still the industry 'bible'. This apprenticeship covered designing and making everything from roofing and plumbing to casting statues and gargoyles, ornaments, spires, fruits...
"On the day that I passed the examination to be a master craftsman, I was given a set of tools dating back to 1500. They had been passed down over the years from craftsman to craftsman, and I still use them if I'm doing casting or special decorative work."
Owning- and sometimes using- a set of tools dating back to the 1500s may seem a little outmoded, but for Markham, it's a badge of honor. The tools have pride of place on a shelf in his office, he says. "When I first got the tools and put them in my hands, I could feel the history, the skills that had been passed down through the craftsmen who have used them."
He has made good use of the tools after gaining his certification, setting up his own lead and copper roofing company in England, which he ran for 24 years. Within a year of starting his company he received the top award from the UK Roofing Association (the equivalent of the RANZ Roofing Excellence Award) for his work on the Royal Patriotic Asylum building in Wandsworth, London, where he renovated the sheet lead tower, complete with its intricate Gothic features and statues.
From here, Markham went on to spend 15 years involved in repairs and renovations on the roofs and decorative detailing of various royal palaces in and around London- the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and the Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens, Clarence House and Windsor Castle, where he spent many years undertaking restoration work after the devastating fire in 1992.
Another of his businesses in the UK specialised in creating lead planters, statues and fountains, which were seen in many winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, and Markham numbered among his clients Madonna, Jane Seymour and Oprah Winfrey.
Then, in 2005, the Markham family packed their bags and headed to New Zealand, where Markham initially worked for Calder Stewart, before starting his own roofing and renovations company, Professional Roofing and Renovations, in Browns Bay, Auckland. With such a stellar CV, he secured projects such as carrying out sheet lead and copper work on the old part of the Auckland Art Gallery when it was renovated and extended, as well as historic churches and other buildings around Auckland.
"My beautiful old tools came into their own for the Art Gallery project," he says. "I made the time capsule there and used the tools for casting the decorative top on it."
One Auckland project that he is particulary proud of it the copper dome that he has designed and crafted for the house in Herne Bay. "In a lifetime you might be lucky to get to create four or five specialist domes or towers. Jobs like that only come up now and then," Markham says.
So, to be contracted to build a brand-new copper dome on a home in Auckland is very special, he says.
The dome taking center stage on the Herne Bay house is 4.5m wide by 4m high, and finished with a wooden finial on the apex. Its totally custom made using interlocking copper shingles, with each one individually cast by hand. Because of the circular nature of a dome, the shingles on each row are slightly different in shape and size to those on the row below, and the next row of shingles cant be measured or cast until the row below is completed and installed.
"A dome like this takes about five weeks to make. It is very labour-intensive, but the result is completely unique," he says.
As a specialist in decorative detailing working mainly with materials such as lead and copper, Markham gets involved in both residential and commercial projects, often for historic places and churches. He says a lot of roofing today uses materials that are machined, rather than handcrafted, and don't require the more traditional skills. "But, most of the detailed work that I do can't be done by machines."
And as the only person in the country who specialises in lead work, Markham is the obvious contender for another project about to get under way: the restoration of decorative detailing on the Chief Post Office in Britomart, Auckland- one of the oldest buildings in New Zealand. Here, 10 tonnes of lead will be used to protect the stone corncing around the top of the building.
While Markham doesn't generally take on standard roofing jobs, he does get called in when homeowners or architects want a creative or specialist design. He says that a popular new fashion at the moment is the Euro-tray seamed roof, which is formed from higher-end materials such as copper, zinc and aluminium. This roofing system which can be made in various shapes and profiles, is often used to achieve complex designs such as turrets and curved roofs, enabling a customised appearance, "Actually, this is the first form of metal roofing ever made and dates back around 400 years. We are seeing more and more architects choosing this very traditional style of roofing for their houses."
Article from Crafts Leadwork – Magazine that Stephen featured in.
‘The Romans found that lead looked better than marble in our soft English light. Craftsman Stephen Markham agrees – it is easy to work and last for 500 years.
Tucked away down a narrow winding north Deon lane with it’s high banks packed with summer wildflowers you come across a small farm near the hamlet of Chipplehampton. A prettily painted blue and white Devon long house, overlooking the gentle rolling slopes on the very fringes of Exmoor, is now the home and workplace for one of gardening’s most successful craftsmen – Stephen Markham, who has established himself as the man to go to for high quality, decorative leadwork – whether planters or statuary.
These days, celebrities feature quite largely in his life.Among his clients are Gucci, Ophrah Winfrey, Paul Getty, Sean Bean and Susan Hampshire, and he has also done much restoration work for the Queen’s royal palaces.
Not bad for a London lad of modest background who found schooling quiet hard and who started life as a plumber. But Stephen now believes his struggle with words freed up the creative part of his brain and allowed it free rein. His skills became more apparent when he moved to roofing and began his life long journey working with lead and the flexibility it offers in design.
It is, after all, a pure ore, very desirable, very heavy and, he says, in scientific terms just ‘two protons away from gold’. The Romans decided it was a better option- and more easily available – than marble in this country and no one has been able to improve on it yet.
Not only is Stephen a craftsman but designs ideas also began to tumble out. Often after a good night’s sleep. ‘I’ll reach for a notepad, start sketching – and it’s all there’.
His restoration of a lead topped London tower won accolades and Stephen was on the way up. Up to royalty in fact, for over the next decade he covered the rooftops – literally – of the royal palaces of London: St James’, Buckingham, Kensington, Hampton Court and The Tower of London. ‘The most satisfying one was restoring the roof at Windsor Castle after it burnt down during Her Majesty’s annus horribilis of 1992.
He turned to decorative leadwork first, in a small way; filling his own garden with a statue there and a planter here but, in 1995, his wife Joanna visited Hampton Court Flower Show and realised that her husband’s talents were worth exhibitioning. She secured him a stand at the next year’s show – from which she returned empty handed and delighted. The following year Stephen was invited to exhibit at Chelsea and there’s been no looking back since.
While the skills of leadwork he had learnt in his youth were traditional, he is now introducing a more contemporary feel. With geometric patterns and innovative use of lighting, his stunning JC Range of abstract straight edged planters are, rather to Stephens surprise, selling just as fast with old clients and with new. Traditional or contemporary; the designs will continue to evolve. Says Stephen, ‘Standing still is not an option!’
‘Embodied Energy and Environmental Impact
The “embodied energy” of a material refers to the total amount of energy consumed during that material’s lifespan, including extraction, processing, manufacture, transport, installation, maintenance, and disposal. Compared with other metals, copper requires a relatively small expenditure of energy to extract and process.
Embodied energy comparisons should consider the life span of the material. A single-ply or built-up low-slope roof might claim to have a lower embodied energy than a copper one—that is, until material lifecycle is taken into consideration. With an expected service life of 100 years or more, a copper roof has four times the lifespan of a standard 25-year assembly.
Therefore, the embodied energy of a copper roof should more accurately be compared with that of four 25-year roof assemblies. In these terms, copper emerges as the clear energy champion.
Durability isn’t the only factor that makes copper a strong choice, environmentally speaking. Green building rating systems, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), now incorporate life cycle assessment (LCA) data into their certification scores—and with good reason.
LCA is a method of evaluating a product’s environmental impact across its lifespan. Embodied energy is part of an LCA calculation, but the assessment also considers reuse and recyclability. Here, too, copper has an advantage over other roofing materials: it is recyclable in all forms. Salvaged copper, architectural copper, and the cuttings and filings produced during finishing can all be re-incorporated into new copper products. Such recycled copper isn’t restricted to low-grade materials; in the U.S., architectural copper is made primarily from recycled content, with some products made from as much as 90% recycled material.
Copper’s impressive lifespan and nearly infinite recyclability derive from its unique material properties, which allow the metal to retain its appearance, strength, malleability, and corrosion resistance for multiple uses across the centuries’.
Article taken as an extract from the Hoffman Architects Journal.
This is an extract from an article taken from Hoffman Architects Journal and was written by Juan Kuriyama, AIA and William Hayes, Assoc. AIA.
‘Traditionally, there are three types of copper roofing, each with its own distinct aesthetic qualities and applicability for a given roof condition.
Flat Seam Unique to copper roofs, flat seam construction is generally reserved for low-slope roofs or curved surfaces, such as domes or vaults. Cold-rolled copper sheets are folded over at adjacent sides, with copper cleats installed in the seams. Typically, the longitudinal seams are continuous, whereas transverse seams are staggered. For slopes of 3”-in-12” or less, the flatlocked seams are soldered to improve water-tightness.
Standing Seam Pre-formed or field-formed pans are used to create standing seam copper roofing. One side of each pan is formed longer and folded twice over the adjacent pan, joining the panels together. These double-locked standing seams run parallel to the roof slope, with fixed copper cleats securing the roofing to the structural deck.
Batten Seam With its characteristic box-shaped seams, batten seam construction is commonly used on domes, barrel vaults, and cupolas to create a dramatic roof line. Like standing seam roofs, batten seam construction positions copper pans parallel to the roof slope. Panels are separated by wood battens, which are covered with copper batten caps that are loose-locked to adjacent pans to accommodate expansion and contraction. In addition to its use as a roof cladding, copper is also widely used for roof flashings, gutters, downspouts, and cornices, in conjunction with other roofing types and materials. Its resistance to corrosion and its malleability allow copper to be readily shaped to accommodate intersections, bends, and curves without failure.
Aesthetics Regardless of type, copper roofs both new and old are standouts in any building skyline. Beyond practical considerations, such as low life-cycle costs, salvage value, longevity, and low maintenance demands, copper is often selected for roofing because of its distinctive color and texture. With natural weathering, copper changes from the color of a new penny through a series of dull brown shades to a striking blue-green. Depending upon the climate and application, copper roofing weathers and changes hue gradually over time, lending each copper-clad roof a unique appearance’.