A frequent use of curved steel would be in the creation of a building canopy. Adding a curved shape to the front of a building can have both aesthetic and practical benefits. A smoothly sloped shape allows some protection from the elements while also helping the façade to stand out from the street. Commonly, rolled steel tubing is used as it has the structural support strength needed for larger projects. As well, rolled rectangular steel tubes can provide a sleek and modern look that highlights the exterior of many buildings.
The “hardway” orientation (against the strong axis) is used for a variety of sizes of rectangular tubing with canopy structures. In a recent project, 10” x 8” rectangular tubes were rolled the hardway to support the shape of a curved canopy.
The modern architecture style of rolled rectangular tubing may not be practical or necessary to provide for all canopy structures. Another recent project involved the rolling of metal grating to provide a lightweight alternative for a fixed size canopy.
In this particular case, the customer planned to cut the metal grating into multiple sections after being rolled, like one might slice a loaf of bread. This would enable them to form rib-like supports for the style of canvas-covered awning that is often seen on small restaurants or store-fronts. The cross-bar support that is already a part of the metal grating would offer additional strength and require less welding to make a sturdy shape.
Some of the simplest curved canopies can be formed with just a single piece of curved steel, yet offer a remarkable improvement for the building exterior. I have certainly noticed the improvements if I am waiting to catch a taxi in Chicago. Particularly if I have forgotten my umbrella and it starts to rain. Having that canopy to stand beneath makes a huge impression.