Staircase Wall Made of Expanded Metal: That certain Something

MEVACO

Staircases in older buildings are often imposing features. In contrast, staircases in new buildings are often simply necessary elements, sober and functional in design to keep costs to a minimum. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Inspired by many MEVACO application examples, architect Stefan Bräuning planned an aesthetically beautiful and functional stairwell made of expanded metal.

It was important to the client to give the stairwell in her new house a special touch. The stairs provide direct access from the underground garage to the cellar rooms, the granny-flat and the main apartment covering a total height of 5m. The house concept is focussed on using real materials: exposed concrete (supporting walls), steel (hand rails and stairs inside the main apartment), floor-to-ceiling aluminium windows and wide oak plank parquet flooring. The client loves design, clear lines and the honesty of the material.

The architect’s office started to deliberate about the design of the staircase. It was clear that the stairwell had to fulfil two functions: protection and design. Initial ideas involving concrete, wood and glass were all dismissed because the architect team, inspired by MEVACO, decided to use perforated metal plates or expanded metal for the stairwell, as these products best matched the client’s desire to make a feature of the stairwell.

Right from the beginning the architect team worked very closely with a MEVACO partner, the company Spissinger in Waiblingen to specify the design, the structural stability and the sub-construction for both the perforated sheets and the expanded metal mats. At this time it was not clear which of the two products were to be used. The architect and the metalworking specialist considered the respective functional and design benefits of perforated sheets versus expanded metal taking into account the product properties in terms of the construction.

Both materials are well suited for satisfying the separation and safety requirements of a staircase wall whilst still allowing a certain amount of transparency.

MEVACO produces perforated sheets in a number of designs, e.g. the elegant pattern ‘Lily’ or the curvy ‘Ellipse’, and of course the classic round or square perforations in all sizes.

The expanded metal is available in a wide variety of mesh sizes and bridge widths; it owes its versatility to the fact that these mesh sizes and bridge widths can be modified. The visual effect ranges from grid-like open to full-surface closed surfaces. The choice of materials available (e.g. stainless steel, aluminium, steel) is similar for both products. Also, there are no differences in the comprehensive, reliable service from MEVACO. However, because there no chad is created when expanded metal is produced, it is the more sustained product.

There was no doubt about it, both products would make an attractive stairwell wall. It was now all down to what the client wanted. Confronted with the two product samples she decided in favour of the expanded metal. Expanded metal does not have the flat appearance of perforated sheets, it has a three dimensional character which can be used to create special effects when light is reflected. Whilst perforated metal has great visual appeal, dedicated lighting of the 3D surface creates an even more fascinating and astounding effect.

Well placed light sources are an effective way of creating a special atmosphere in small spaces. Ultimately it was that certain something in the appearance of the expanded metal that was the deciding factor for the client.

Now it was up to the metalworking specialist. He drafted rough sketches of the structure, took measurements and mounted the metal to a steel frame which was fitted directly into the staircase. The uniform shape of the wall has a fascinating appearance and glittery shine thanks to the LED light strips along the steps. Also, light cones were installed on the white walls.

Surprised by the final appearance of the construction, both the metal specialist and the architect exclaimed in unison: "It is amazing how impressive expanded metal can be!" The stairwell is now a real eye catcher within the house and also lights up the client’s eyes.

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