The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning officially opened in December 2014 after much anticipation by the architecture community. Designed by John Wardle Architects (JWA) and Boston-based practice NADAAA, architects in collaboration, the $125 million development was completed four months ahead of schedule and has since received favourable reviews from both critics and peers.

Now known as the Melbourne School of Design, the project’s interiors have in particular, been praised for its spatial openness and mix of light and space, which are enhanced by an honest material palette that can be ‘pulled apart’ to give students an insight into construction techniques and fabrication.

At the heart of this design is a four storey atrium dominated by a plywood-clad hanging studio and a faceted timber ceiling diffusing light throughout the space. Closer inspection however, reveals a complementary but conspicuous 1,500m² mesh balustrade that forms a full-height screen within the atrium.

This bespoke Jakob Webnet Mesh atrium screen by Tensile was specified by the architects for its lightweight, ethereal aesthetic, which fits in with the architectural intent of open and permeable spaces. Unlike existing solutions, the stainless steel mesh provides a safety barrier between floors that complies with crowd loading situations presented with the Building Code and Australian Standards, whilst maintaining transparency of both views and air flows.

Installing the Webnet Mesh was a complex process, and required 3D modelling to get all the components correct, especially as there were 750 individual and unique pieces of tubing. Along with the stainless steel mesh, a total of over four kilometres of support cables, 1,500 metres of stainless steel tube and countless fittings, fixings and custom components were required for the project.

Despite its complexity, the product’s mesh and perimeter fixing details made working with the complicated geometry of the hanging studio and atrium slab profiles very easy. Furthermore, close collaboration between Tensile, the architects and the builder Brookfield Multiplex meant that the product was not just an afterthought or add-on solution, but one that was truly and fully integrated with the design. As a turnkey solution, it could not be designed in isolation, and its installation time is testament to the strength of interdisciplinary teamwork, with Tensile in constant consultation and discussion with both JWA and NADAAA for design resolution and refinement throughout the various design stages – the project was completed three months ahead of schedule, a massive achievement for a complicated, bespoke design.

The Jakob Webnet is an incredibly versatile material suitable for all sizes of commercial and institutional projects. Made from stainless steel 316 grade wire and available in wire diameters 1-3mm and aperture openings of 25mm-300mm, the mesh provides a discreet protective and supportive structure, and can be used to form a plane surface. Alternatively, it can be tensioned into three dimensional forms featuring spherical, cylindrical or funnel-type shapes.

Distributed by Tensile in Australia, the stainless steel mesh is made to order and compliant to ISO 9001:2008 by the certification body of Swiss TS Technical Services AG. To find out more about the product, please visit

Or to find out more about the product’s use in the Melbourne School of Design, please visit