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GKD's striking stainless steel mesh screens offer ornamental shading

Combining technological progress with tradition, Qatar is at the forefront of education and sustainable architecture. In the capital Doha, students from across the globe study at outposts of the world’s leading universities on the Education City campus.

With the construction of two new student residences, the contracting client, Qatar Foundation, provided the impetus for a radical approach to sustainable thinking. Architects Burns & McDonnell from Kansas City, USA created buildings with the highest level of LEED certification (Platinum), through  an array of energy saving and energy generation measures. These include solar cells on the roofs, a smart lighting system and integrated filtration and treatment of dirty water using a ‘biomass wall’. Particular attention was given to how the facades are screened to repel the sun’s glare but still admit light.


Detail of the mesh used for the Doha student halls. Decoration is based on traditional Arabic motifs

Large areas of Omega stainless steel mesh elements supplied by Gebr Kufferath AG (GKD) act as sun protection, making a crucial contribution to environmental control and energy use. This functional efficiency is matched by an equal attention to aesthetic detail. Arabic motifs evoking local culture are etched on the mesh by means of a special bead blasting process to create dramatic, shimmering patterns. In the challenging climate of the Persian Gulf, efficient sun protection is a decisive factor in the energy balance of a building. Using panels with a high degree of light transmission makes possible onsiderable savings in lighting and air conditioning.

The versatility of GKD’s stainless steel mesh goes hand in hand with its striking aesthetic appeal. The glossy, textile structure reflects daylight and the mesh was decorated using a special bead blasting technique. Reusable templates protect unprocessed areas of the mesh while the decorative pattern is blasted onto the mesh surface using a procedure similar to sandblasting. Despite the precision of the large-scale patterns, the mesh remains transparent and is durable and weather resistant. Inspired by Arabic ornamental motifs, recurring floral patterns cover the entire surface. Sweeping, overlapping lines and shapes generate seductive patterns, while individual shapes blend and merge, changing appearance depending on where viewed.


An earlier project using decorative mesh for a coffee shop in the US

GKD first implemented its decoratively etched mesh on a smaller scale in the USA. In one project, a bead blasted image of the famous Colombian coffee farmer Juan Valdez became the visual trademark of the eponymous coffee shop chain’s flagship store. In another, the foyer of Piper High School in Kansas is adorned with the head of the school’s pirate mascot. This new technique gives GKD’s optically and functionally sophisticated stainless steel mesh expressive and unlimited design potential.


Design possibilities are endless, as shown by this project for a high school in Kansas. The pirate is the school’s mascot

The etched mesh curtains for Doha set new standards in appearance and functionality, confirming the campus as an ecological showpiece. Through a unique combination of material properties, stainless steel mesh facades are becoming models of sustainable architecture, with GKD in the vanguard of their production and design.

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