Northern Beaches Hospital Atrium


Northern Beaches Hospital contracted Tensile to design, supply and install barriers for its internal atriums.

The hospital, which is located at French’s Forest in Sydney, identified some safety issues with the two seven-storey atriums, and recognised that secure barriers were required.

Our brief was to create barriers that would provide the necessary safety, while allowing for airflow and visual connection throughout.

Challenges of the project

While our team is very experienced with creating and installing full-length bespoke atrium barriers, this project came with a few more challenges than usual!

For a start, this was a retrofit to an existing building, so we needed to design the barrier to connect back to the structure and take the required loads. It was also important to ensure the barrier did not look like a retrofit, but as if it was part of the original design.

Other challenges included the hospital continuing its operations as usual, in an environment with tight COVID controls, including testing.

There was also limited structure to attach the barrier to without major works being done. This meant using standard approaches would have added significant cost and caused major disruption due to the extra time needed on site.

Delivering a tried and tested solution

Through some clever design and testing, we came up with a solution that would meet all requirements, using 60mm x 1.5mm Webnet mesh mounted on stainless steel tube frames. These frames in turn would be fixed to the existing balustrades.

We made sure to have this approach fully engineered and prototyped, to ensure feasibility.

The method mounting stainless steel mesh panels onto frames ensured that the bulk of the work could be done off-site, cutting down on the on-site work and construction site mess. It also meant we were able to install the frames with no disruptions to the hospital’s operations.

Being a light-weight and translucent material, Webnet is excellent for creating barriers that are near-transparent, and allow for airflow, natural light and connection between levels. It also has excellent durability and little requirement for maintenance. This means the barriers should last a long time at minimal ongoing cost.

Full-length barriers of this type also provide a maximum level of fall and jump protection and prevent objects being thrown or falling over the edge.

To enhance the aesthetics of these barriers further, we added Webnet ID plates in a kind of ‘droplet’ form. This feature ties in very nicely with the existing fretting on the glass balustrade.

Tensile collaborated with the hospital management team to coordinate the delivery of the barriers. Overall the project took six months, from design to completion – which is a very quick result for such a major installation.

We think the stunning result speaks for itself!

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