Webnet Roofmesh

January 24, 2024

Designer: Tensile
Location: Leederville, WA

Forget the clunky cages and oppressive bars of yesteryear – the future of roof barriers is lightweight and translucent. The Partridge team worked closely with Tensile Design & Construct in bringing this vision to life for a hospital rooftop terrace in Western Australia.

Traditionally, rooftop screens have been relegated to the realm of the purely functional, often resembling imposing fences or utilitarian grids – not exactly the desired aesthetic for a modern healthcare facility. Enter the hero of the hour: tensile mesh. This flexible, woven stainless steel cable mesh offered the perfect blend of strength and transparency, making it the ideal candidate for a functional and unobtrusive roof screen for the hospital roof terrace.

To optimise the design of the tensile mesh and the integrated cable net, Partridge modelled every wire and cable for the proposed system. The geometry of the mesh and cables were modelled using Rhino, a 3D modelling software were the limit on complexity of the models is limited only by computer hardware.  The analysis and design of such integrated systems is often iterative and optimisation requires testing multiple geometries.

Rather than modelling the system by drawing every individual wire, which would require an inordinate amount of drawing time and overwhelm the computer graphics card and memory, Partridge used Grasshopper, a visual programming environment integrated with Rhino. Grasshopper allowed us to generate a parametric model of the whole system that could create multiple iterations quickly and use the computers processor rather than memory.

The geometric output from Grasshopper and Rhino was then imported into Strand7, a finite element modelling software. Strand7 was used to apply forces and loads to the system and subsequently analyse and design the wires and cables. The output from the Strand7 analysis was used to update the Rhino model in an iterative process until the system had been optimised.

The complexity and detail of the Strand7 model was such that it took a staggering 24 hours to analyse the whole system. However it is this complexity and control over the parametric model that provided ultimate control over every aspect of the structure, ensuring a perfect fit for the unique requirements for the hospital roof terrace.

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