BY Elizabeth Hallett, GKD Metal Fabrics

As urbanization continues to increase, housing prices soar. As a result, outdoor gathering spaces are often sacrificed to make way for more housing units. At the same time, post-pandemic life has shown us the many health, community, and wellness benefits to outdoor spaces, making them a highly sought-after amenity.

With a lack of available space, developing the rooftop, or “fifth façade,” has become more important than ever before. Facility managers and construction specifiers tasked with building and renovating office buildings, schools, and healthcare facilities are prioritizing health and flexible design while noting the role outdoor space plays on increasing concentration, productivity, healing, and overall occupant well-being and satisfaction.

Safety and Privacy

Engineered to withstand prolonged tension, impact, and heavy loads, the material provides reliable fall protection when specified as railing infill and balustrades, and partitions. Additionally, metal fabric partitions can define spaces and establish privacy.

Noise Mitigation

Mesh materials can be used as acoustic absorption to help block exterior noise pollution from nearby highways, railway infrastructure, or ground activity. Weave patterns can be specified to dampen sound without compromising airflow or sight lines.

Equipment Screening

Metal fabric partitions can create attractive screening systems for critical rooftop equipment such as HVAC systems, air handlers, or communication technology. The open weave enables air flow and maintenance access while protecting and shielding equipment from occupant view.

Solar Management

Without the presence of a treetop canopy, rooftops have the potential for high sun exposure, which translates to occupant discomfort and higher heat gain for the building. Metal fabric provides effective sunshading and passive cooling when specified as a canopy or open-weave wall.

Green Wall Integration

This popular design feature is used to enhance the rooftop experience through biophilic design. Woven metal walls provide the ideal substrate for climbing plants or rooftop gardening. The highly durable material is resistant to the natural elements, supports watering and plant maintenance and maintains an attractive design when plants are out of season. MB