Mak­ing me­tal mesh fluid

A ma­te­rial once rel­e­gated to stiffer ap­pli­ca­tions is be­ing draped and sculpted with aban­don. But don’t think you’ll see its cur­tain call soon

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The evo­lu­tion of me­tal mesh from steely and stiff to ten­sile and tex­tile­like was nicely il­lus­trated ear­lier this year when Hong Kong–based Su­per­im­pose Ar­chi­tec­ture De­sign Stu­dio un­veiled its Changzhi City Expo – a his­toric fac­tory turned ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre – in China. Ap­pro­pri­ately ti­tled Re-veil, the am­bi­tious project boasts at least one show­stop­ping fea­ture: a bil­lowy me­tal-mesh ceil­ing veil that floats over the hall floor like sheets of gauzy fab­ric. Be­sides soft­en­ing up the vast in­te­rior space, the flow­ing mesh fil­ters sun­light from the clerestory win­dows above. It’s this kind of flex­i­bil­ity – both phys­i­cal and pro­gram­matic – that also prompted OF­FICE Ker­sten Geers David Van Sev­eren to em­ploy me­tal mesh in Bahrain, where the Bel­gian firm draped the ex­te­ri­ors of Muhar­raq Is­land’s Cen­tres for Tra­di­tional Mu­sic (one of which is still un­der con­struc­tion) in a metal­lic weave that shades those in­side from the harsh Mid­dle Eastern sun and, when raised, of­fers glimpses to passersby of live per­for­mances. Among smaller-scale ap­pli­ca­tions, per­haps the most de­light­ful to have emerged re­cently is de­signer Rick Tege­laar’s Mesh­mat­ics Chan­de­lier for Moooi (see Q+A op­po­site). Con­sist­ing of chicken wire moulded into a nested trio of round-bot­tomed bas­kets, Tege­laar’s de­sign not only el­e­vates the mod­est ma­te­rial to chan­de­lier sta­tus but demon­strates how cre­ative de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects ex­per­i­ment­ing with the medium can get. No doubt many more will be go­ing with the flow.

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