In the continuous quest to make a statement of originality in modern building designs, architects often turn to some surprising materials to add unique features and finishes to the exterior or interior of their structures. The eco-friendly among us may be attracted by the use of recycled tyres, tin cans or even mobile phones to add colour, texture and insulation, but others may prefer a sturdy, durable and low-maintenance material such as wire mesh, which can be cut and moulded to individual requirements.
Wire mesh has a surprisingly broad range of uses (including gabion walls, which we’ve covered before here on GBE) due to its adaptability in size and shape, with the same wire weave principle being used to sieve lumps from flour for your favourite cake, separate golden nuggets from sand, construct cages to protect the chickens from fantastic Mr Fox or providing large-scale cladding on commercial buildings.
So, if you are looking to add dynamic to your grand design without creating extra maintenance work, it is definitely worth considering mesh options. Woven mesh is a finely woven sheet of either pure metals like stainless steel or alloys, usually containing copper which provides good resilience against corrosion. This form of mesh has been used in both domestic and commercial architecture, providing insect screens, decorative grills, reinforcements on staircases, walkways and bridges, garden designs, ornamental metal work and sculptures. It is a popular choice due to its longevity, with metal compositions which resist chemicals, high temperatures and corrosion making it an ideal choice for exposed façades.
This design material is also relatively self-maintaining so cleaning can be kept to a minimum and made of a recyclable material so the future impact on the environment is also minimal. In design terms woven wire mesh is highly flexible, size adjustable and can be made at different transparency levels, allowing the architect complete control over the shape of the mesh installation and its influence on light and shadows.
However, there can run a risk of creating an imposing cage-like effect with woven mesh carrying connotations of rabbit hutches and security fences. Therefore, it comes down to the architect to select the ideal weave for its purpose, and to limit the industrial appearance by combining mesh with softer design techniques, perhaps by adding colour or natural touches.
Also it must be noted that stainless steel mesh, while being able to withstand extremely high temperatures (<800°C), can stain and discolour if it is not kept clean, so this option is not entirely maintenance-free. A copper alloy may be a better option if the building is exposed to acid rain or seawater.
Whatever your architectural needs are, you can add an impressive finish to your building with woven wire mesh to create a long-lasting statement of modern design.
Credits for photos: Camden Community Centre, Hartley’s Jam Factory, Wire Mesh – Photography by Cadisch Precision Meshes Ltd
Bio: This article was supported and written by Emily Banham on behalf of Cadisch Precision Meshes Ltd.