In the new Gurmels gym, the Webnet by Jakob covers the ceiling
The Webnet, a flexible net structure made of stainless steel rope and metal sleeves, is one of the best-known and most successful products developed by Jakob. The venerable company is based in the Swiss town of Trubschachen and known around the world as a leading manufacturer of wire ropes. Time and again in the past years, Jakob has succeeded in expanding the range of applications for nets – not least in cooperation with architects. The latest example is a gym in Gurmels.
The Webnet is one of those products that appear so simple and straightforward that it seems to have existed forever: high-quality stainless steel ropes permanently interconnected by simple metal sleeves that make it possible to design wide- or fine-meshed net structures depending on the requirements of the specific application. But the fact is: the net pioneered by Jakob AG was launched only four years ago. The remarkable success of the Webnet on the market originates from many different factors. A special advantage in this context is its flexibility and the broad range of applications that is continuously being expanded because the user’s imagination is the only limiting factor. The Webnet is suitable for protective and securing functions – for example on bridges and in sports facilities. It serves as a fence – for example on the roofs of buildings or as balustrades in staircases. But it can also be used for attachment and perimeter design purposes, and as a training structure for climber plants.
While the excellent weather resistance of the Webnet makes it an optimal solution for outdoor applications, its functional benefits and its unobtrusive yet very upscale appearance makes it an ideal choice for indoor purposes as well.
Another factor determines the Webnet’s broad range of application: the net can be stretched not only over surfaces but also assumes three-dimensional forms. The Webnet can be implemented in the form of simple geometrical shapes such as funnels, cylinders, and spheres, but complex, irregular three-dimensional shapes are also possible. An interesting application of the net that nicely illustrates this quality was implemented at “Knie’s Children’s Zoo” in Rapperswil. Here, like at many other places around the globe, the Webnet provides a convincing solution thanks to its functionality, durability, easy assembly, and not least its attractive yet unobtrusive filigreed appearance.
The recently finished gym in Gurmels in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, designed by the architectural team Jean-Luc Grobéty, André Bächler & Alain Fidanza, Jürg Winkelmann, delivers further impressive proof of the Webnet’s versatility. In this gym, which can be subdivided into three units and is used as a venue for school and club sports as well as cultural events, the Webnet is used as an important functional and aesthetic element of interior design. Secured to the gym ceiling and to the upper portion of a longitudinal wall, it serves as a protective barrier to prevent damage to the lighting integrated into the wooden ceiling structure and to the sports equipment suspended from the ceiling. At the same time, it provides an unobtrusive but clearly visible aesthetic element that visually separates the gym’s interior from the overhead structure.
The incentive to use the Webnet in Gurmels originated with the architects who were seeking a functional and attractive alternative to the conventional dropped ceiling solutions. In close cooperation with the engineers and technicians at Jakob AG, they developed a customized solution for the gym. Planning revolved around two key factors: on the one hand, the choice of mesh aperture and mesh angle which were important for the interior appearance of the net, and on the other hand, the development of an aesthetically and functionally optimized system for attaching the net within the given architectural constellation of the building.
For aesthetic reasons, the architects in Gurmels opted for a relatively small mesh angle of 35° to emphasize the visual effect of the filigreed structure. For attaching the net, they chose a surround rope that is in turn connected to the structure of the building via retainers, the so-called primary construction. This consists of a number of standard elements as well as single parts individually adapted to the given structural situation. Despite their considerable own weight, it was possible to tension the approx. 500 m2 large net segments very tightly, resulting in a minimal, virtually imperceptible sag of 10-15 cm.
The factory-assembled nets were installed by Jakob AG specialists using only a few auxiliary ropes and two mobile scissor platforms. Because installation is quick and requires no expensive scaffolding, the builder benefits from the Webnet’s considerable cost advantages compared to conventional ceiling installations. Hence, Webnet applications as the one completed in Gurmels will certainly attract a following in the near future.