Royal Far West (RFW) is a children’s charity that works with health professionals, communities, parents and carers to deliver healthcare services to country kids.
The new RFW Centre in Sydney needed a bespoke fall protection solution for a spiral staircase and atrium.
The project demonstrates how Jakob’s Webnet mesh can offer a custom solution where a safety barrier that doesn’t adhere to straight lines is required!
We’re very proud to have installed a barrier that is functional, aesthetic and fits seamlessly with the rest of the design, despite being retrofitted.
About the project
The award-winning six-storey RFW Centre, designed by Architectus, was created with children’s health and wellbeing in mind. The building is a light-filled space comprising active and passive areas for kids, as well as outdoor terraces and flexible office spaces.
A four-storey atrium with a spiral staircase is central to the design – which is where Tensile came in. Prior to completion of the build, RFW identified a serious fall risk around the atrium and staircase. Addressing this was crucial, especially in light of the risk to children falling from height.
A robust and rigorous solution was needed to eliminate the risk. However, the client also wanted the barrier to look as if it was part of the original design.
A uniquely-shaped solution
Our brief was to provide a design & construct barrier solution that prevented falls, and looked like it had always been there rather than added on afterwards.
This required creating a barrier that adapted to the curves and twists of the staircase, while being attached back to the rectangular atrium edges.
So you could say it required a ‘square-peg-in-a-round-hole’ approach to achieve!
Webnet mesh – combining strength and geometric freedom
Tensile undertook the steel fabrication for the project. 40mm-aperture mesh made from 2mm stainless steel wire was chosen for the solution. 40mm Webnet fits within the generally accepted standards for non-climbability of balustrades – a very important consideration when designing safety barriers for children.
Webnet also offers other benefits that make it an excellent choice of barrier material. This includes robustness, high-strength capacity, durability, low-maintenance requirements, fire-resistance and the ability to accommodate large spans. It is also light in weight, quick to install compared to many other barrier materials, transparent in appearance and malleable in nature.
At Tensile we have used Webnet in many projects requiring a unique barrier solution – some examples being safety screens on children’s play equipment in public playgrounds, as well as balustrades on curved bridges and twisting pedestrian walkways.
The RFW project however provided a new challenge for us. Achieving the corkscrew shape had never been done in Australia before, and it proved to be difficult. Fortunately, Webnet’s fabric-like quality that allows it to be draped or wrapped around structures proved to be up to the task.
This meant the project goal was achieved, and credit goes to the install team for their efforts. The finished product looks amazing and the careful detailing that was undertaken makes the barrier look as though it was always meant to be there, in line with what the client requested.