A really wonderful product came on the market a couple of decades past. The prefabricated, metal fireplace insert and metal flue changed the way architects design chimneys. Chimneys are now able to be light, thin and luminous rather than massive and monstrous. Important views going out and sources of natural light coming in no longer have to be closed off. Rather, the new metal flues make it possible for architects to open up and make fully transparent any exterior wall — even those with a fireplace.
The double-wall construction is what makes these work. While there’s an interior steel flue from bottom to top, there’s also an exterior steel liner with a distance between the two. The enclosure for all these flues — if a decorative metallic skin or a wood and drywall box — is independent of the actual performance of the flue, providing architects and designers far more freedom in how to take care of the visible part of the fireplace.
So next time you are building new or remodeling, then consider these fireplaces to let the view in. Listed below are a few ways.
Webber + Studio, Architects
Let the fireplace float. By putting windows around the fireplace (and putting the metal chimney on the outside), there’s little to obstruct the light and see, so the inside remains more spacious and glowing. The fireplace appears to float at the wall instead of being anchored to one spot by a thick masonry chimney.
Maintain the glass box glass. On the exterior the metallic chimney remains the vertical totem it has always been. But now the glass wall can span up, over and in front of the chimney. There’s no need to have a chimney which breaks up and divides the elevation into bits.
Let it go through the roof. All these flues can grow up and through striking roof overhangs with minimal impact. Just be sure that you allow for the proper clearances by following local building codes and the manufacturer’s specifications.
Avoid architectural capabilities. The flue can also bend and be rerouted to prevent architectural features like overhangs. Again (this can’t be stressed enough), follow the building codes and manufacturer specifications when doing any chimney setup.
Bring it inside. These types of chimneys are not only for outdoor wall applications. Metal chimneys are perfect design elements for two-sided fireplaces, where they keep the inside spaces more open and attached. This inside would not be quite as spacious, bright and spacious with a boxy chimney rising up from the fireplace.
Help it become sculptural. One of the great advantages of utilizing a prefabricated metal fireplace and metallic chimney is the ability to place a hearth just about anywhere in the house and treat it like a sculpture.
Blackburn Architects, PC
Utilize a metal chimney with any style. Though more commonly used and connected with a contemporary aesthetic, a metallic chimney flue can be used in almost any area where a more spacious and light-filled space is wanted.
AIA, dSPACE Studio Ltd
Let it spin. Metal chimney technologies also allows the fireplace to be a floating object unconnected to the ground. The Fireorb by architect Doug Garofalo carries the prefab metal fireplace into a completely different level. Allowing a 360-degree rotation, this really is a fireplace which can be placed anywhere in a distance — it’s like something from The Jetsons.
David Johnston Architects
You decide: To port or not to vent. Lots of the new prefabricated, metal fireboxes don’t even require a chimney. Only if the fireplace is intended to be wood burning is there a need to vent smoke out and up. When it’s only a gas-burning fireplace, then a direct port (directly out supporting the fireplace) or a no-vent solution works just fine.
There’s no need to feel uneasy with a no-vent fireplace — think of it like a gas blower, like a stove. These fireplaces can burn the gasoline so economically that no venting is required. Just be sure to set up the fireplace in accordance with all local building codes and the manufacturer’s specifications.
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