In the October issue of Azure, we identified metallic mesh – and its surprising flexibility – as a major architectural trend to watch. On building exteriors, the material is being draped, shaped and woven in innovative ways. And for interiors, it’s being used as a sound-absorbing solution, with companies such as Cambridge, Maryland’s GKD Metal Fabrics designing products like the Acoustic Mesh Panel, an aluminum-composite tile that’s been used to cover ceilings, room dividers and walls.
“It’s the largest mesh panel with acoustical properties on the market,” says Josh Bradley, GKD’s marketing director. “Ultimately this enables monolithic ceiling surfaces to appear almost jointless, yet still accessible. We are also the only manufacturer who offers woven metal as a rigid acoustic panel.”
Though the product is relatively new, it has already been used in a number of monolithic projects. Affixed using a ceiling clip system, which employs a Z-clip, the product has been used in cultural, institutional and office settings: more than 750 square metres of the material was used on the sixth floor of Washington’s Museum of the Bible, employing 235 panels over its diamond-shaped ceilings. In Paris, the Tour Europlaza office building uses the material for both sound absorption and aesthetics, both as room dividers and wall coverings. Antwerp’s Koningin Elisabethzaal concert hall (below) covers surfaces in 1,600 square metres of the material.
And the list goes on.
The key to the rapid adoption of GKD’s Acoustic Mesh Panels – in less than a year, the company says, it’s become one of their top products – is its flexibility. It can be cut to numerous shapes while also possessing outstanding technical properties: the material has a Class-A fire rating, the highest ranking for smoke- and flame-spreading, while achieving a .9 NRC rating (or noise-reduction coefficient; an NRC rating of one denotes perfect sound absorption).
They’re light-weight, too; GKD says the panels way a half-pound per square foot. Standard panels are four-by-eight feet, and are precision-cut by waterjet.
The panels, which can be outfitted with acoustic fleece and feature a honeycomb structure made with recycled aluminum, come in eight standard anodized colours. Its golden-hued varieties, as used by zsp Architecten for a Stuttgart, Germany conference room (below), are an early favourite. Due to their efficiency – they absorb sound well with or without the fleece backing – they can be used as acoustic solutions for even open-plan environments.
The efficiency of the Acoustic Mesh Panels also manifests itself in it ease of installation and maintenance. They can be removed and refitted easily, and the panels can be trimmed to accommodate lights, downlights and sprinklers. “These panels,” adds Bradley, “not only evoke elegance but effective and efficient performance, as well.” In that context, it’s easy to see why metallic mesh is becoming a major trend – both for interiors and exteriors.