GKD Metal Fabrics

For those who have been busy watching the Beijing Olympics, the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium) has proven to be captivating, due in large part to its cross-hatched steel shell. The use of unwrapped steel-exposed and open, refusing to be hidden beneath walls or roofs-lends the Bird’s Nest a transparency, which is quite a feat for a building its size. The juxtaposition of the material with its manipulation stresses that the best architecture can not only work with its structural components but also work against them-in other words, do what we least expect. With the Bird’s Nest, heavy steel evokes lightness.

Omega 1510, woven-in bar with eyebolt. Manufactured by GKD Metal Fabrics.

The same idea infuses GKD Metal Fabrics, “an extraordinary collection of woven metal fabrics designed, engineered and manufactured specifically for the architecture community.” Produced in varying degrees of flexibility and weights, GKD Metal Fabrics suit indoor and outdoor uses. The most flexible metal fabrics, such as the stainless steel Kiwi or the bronze Mandarin, can in fact be used as interior fabrics. These two “weaves” are tight but thin, allowing light to enter rooms in a gentle diffusion. The MoMA store in New York accentuates some of its products by suspending them housed in Kiwi fabric displays. The less flexible metal fabrics serve more structural purposes, often on the exterior of buildings.

GKD Metal Fabrics

Mandarin, framed with bent fabric. Installed at Taku Restaurant in Cologne, Germany.

GKD Metal Fabrics

Kiwi, framed. Installed at Volkswagen Glass in Dresden, Germany.

GKD’s stronger products form balustrades and room dividers: the JP Morgan office in San Francisco used panels of GKD Metal Fabrics to create a hallway bisecting work areas-a hallway that provided privacy while still allowing light to pass through. Inside a frame or attached with rods and bolts, the various GKD Metal Products lend themselves to many methods of construction. And endless applications-from the golden screens inside Church of the Sacred Heart to the industrial walls of Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge.

GKD stresses that you have to “see and touch” their products to truly get an idea (or an inspiration) for how they can fit into your designs. And they make it easy. You can order a sample box with an array of their products by visiting their website.

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