Webnet, a flexible net structure made of stainless steel rope and metal sleeves, allows architects to design wide- or fine-meshed net structures to meet the varying needs of different projects.
Webnet is a hugely flexible material with a wide range of uses. It is suitable for protecting, securing or dividing buildings or building zones – for example on bridges, roofs and in sports facilities; it can also serve as a fence, or as balustrades infill in staircases; or it may be used as a training structure for plants to climb up the walls of facades.
Whilst its excellent weather resistance makes Webnet an ideal solution for outdoor applications, its functional benefits and elegant appearance make it equally suitable for internal use. Webnet can be stretched over the majority of surfaces, or can be used to create three-dimensional structures – such as funnels, cylinders, and spheres. Complex, irregular three-dimensional shapes are also possible.
The recently finished gym in Gurmels in Switzerland, designed by architects Jean-Luc Grobéty, André Bächler, Alain Fidanza and Jürg Winkelmann, provides great evidence of the versatility of Webnet. The gym is divided into three units which are used for school and club sports as well as cultural events, with Webnet providing both functional and aesthetic elements of the interior design. Secured to the gym ceiling and to the upper portion of a wall, it serves as a protective barrier to prevent damage to the lighting integrated into the wooden ceiling structure and to the sports equipment suspended from the ceiling. It also provides an unobtrusive but clearly aesthetic element that visually separates the gym’s interior from the overhead structure.
In specifying Webnet, the architects were responding to the need for a functional and attractive alternative to conventional, dropped ceiling solutions. In close cooperation with the engineers at Jakob, a tailored solution for the gym was developed. The design incorporated two key factors: the choice of mesh aperture and mesh angle which were important for the interior appearance of the net, and the development of an aesthetic and functional system for attaching the net within the overall architecture of the building.
The architects opted for a relatively small mesh angle of 35° to emphasize the visual effect of the filigreed structure. For attaching the net, they chose a surround rope that is in turn connected to the structure of the building via retainers. Despite their considerable weight, it was possible to tension the approx. 500 m2 net segments very tightly, resulting in a virtually imperceptible sag of just 10-15 cm.
The factory-assembled nets were installed by Jakob using only a few auxiliary ropes and two mobile scissor platforms. Because installation is quick and requires no expensive scaffolding, Webnet provided considerable cost advantages compared to conventional ceiling installations.
Owner: Gemeindeverband der OS Region Gurmels, Switzerland
Architect: André Bächler / Alain Fidanza, Fribourg, Switzerland
Stainless Steel Nets: Jakob Switzerland, www.jakob.ch