Large-scale multi-level infrastructure projects require barriers that comply with building codes in terms of fall protection and non-climbability. While safety is the top priority, appearance also plays an important role, especially in commercial projects. This combination of integrity and appeal is readily achieved with tensile barriers.
Integrating protective barriers into architectural design is challenging. But with the right approach, it can be done successfully – even in retrofit situations.
Barrier material options
The tendency is often to automatically select traditional barrier materials – such as steel, concrete, or glass in the case of a transparent barrier. But many architects and builders may not be aware of what stainless steel tensile materials have to offer for barriers.
A precision-engineered tensile barrier can provide robustness, flexibility, longevity, and adaptability to just about any type of infrastructure. This includes pedestrian and cycle bridges, railway footbridges, elevated walkways, car parks and multi-storey atriums in schools and offices.
Tensile materials include stainless steel wire rope configured as vertical cables or woven mesh. These materials have a light thin profile and can be used to create transparent barriers with a subtle presence.
This type of tensile barrier allows for natural light, views and airflow while offering maximum safety, longevity, strength, 50+ year design life and low-maintenance requirements – a win-win situation!
Integrating protective tensile barriers
Developing compliant infrastructure safety barriers requires solid engineering expertise. It’s not just the national building code that needs to be considered, there may also be local regulations. State road authorities for example may set specific requirements for footbridge barriers over highways, railway lines or watercourses.
A barrier can also ruin a beautiful structure if it sits at odds with the design – especially where it’s been added on afterwards.
Tensile barriers can be engineered/tensioned and designed to match the safety needs of individual projects, while enhancing the overall design.
The materials can be customised in a variety of ways, depending on the requirements for fall protection, non-climbability and aesthetic appeal. For example, stainless steel mesh for barriers and screens can vary in terms of aperture-opening size, wire rope dimensions, configurations, components, and attachments.
Examples of tensile barriers in design
We use Jakob stainless steel cables or Webnet mesh materials for tensile barriers because of their excellent performance and light, airy appearance.
Bridge of Remembrance, Hobart
This is demonstrated on the Bridge of Remembrance in Hobart. The 200m footbridge over the Tasman Highway with its unique twisting plane design needed a safety barrier that was functional as well as elegant.
40mm aperture Webnet was selected as this size prevents climbing footholds. The barrier was engineered for heavy crowd use – but you’d never know that to look at it, given its subtle translucent appearance!
Christopher Cassaniti Bridge, Sydney
Another example is the unique helical-shaped Christopher Cassaniti Bridge (formerly Lachlan’s Line Bridge) in Sydney, where we were engaged to install an anti-throw screen.
We used 40mm Webnet divided into over 60 pieces, with each one being individually shaped to match its final position on the bridge.
The finished screen aligns with the curves of the bridge and has a subtle appearance that complements its sculptural form – goals that no other material could have achieved.
South-East Light Rail Bridge, Sydney
Webnet’s adaptability to different safety requirements is also demonstrated on the CBD and South-East Light Rail Bridge in Sydney. To comply with safety codes, this project had different barrier mesh aperture-size requirements for its over-road and over-rail sections. A combination of 25mm and 50mm Webnet was used depending on where it was to be situated.
The result is a robust long-lasting transparent barrier that enables clear visibility and has low ongoing maintenance needs.
Got a project in mind?
To find out more about tensile barriers for large-scale infrastructure projects, please call us!