Public School 163 Bath Beach in Brooklyn, New York prides itself on its motivation to nurture its students in an atmosphere of challenging learning. It is a modern facility of strong architectural features that command the eye to absorb vibrant colors of brick red and pale yellow in bold horizontals occupying the block on which the building is located, and with attention-grabbing verticals in both colors that rise a total of four stories. It is an attraction in the neighborhood for its service as a learning environment and as a visually stunning architectural feature.
While the objectives of learning were accommodated by the architecture, their challenge was to provide enough playground space for the school children without having sufficient ground space to accommodate that need.
The challenge was met by the architectural choice to employ a third story rooftop playground enclosure encased in wire mesh Webnet, a high, marine grade AISI 316 stainless steel wire mesh and framing system. It was a brilliant choice that resulted in a visually pleasing playground space that does not detract from the architectural lines of the school building. In fact, it enhances the strong lines of the building by its near invisibility along the strong horizontal plane while adding a radius element on one long side of the playground enclosure as a counterpoint to the stark 90-degree angles of the building.
More important than the graceful architectural feature of the enclosure is the safety barrier the Webnet wire mesh provides for the children. Even at three stories in the air, the children are as safe in the rooftop playground enclosure as if they were on the ground.
The Webnet enclosure provides both a horizontal and overhead barrier against the loss of tossed, hit or kicked balls that are struck with sufficient force to lose them over the fence of a ground-based playground. But the barrier is more visually pleasing in its near-absence than the typical chain-link fencing material that has been in use for more than sixty years.
Webnet is provided in a variety of diameters of steel rope, mesh apertures, relative barrier strength and framing employed. All Webnet wire mesh, regardless of aperture, employs AISI 316 marine grade stainless steel rope, consisting of seven wrapped strands of steel wire with seven each of such wrapped strands then wound together to form the rope in 1.0mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm, and 3.0mm diameters.
The mesh aperture is secured at its four corners in the entire range of wire mesh apertures by AISI 316 marine grade stainless steel sleeves. Depending on the rope diameter employed, mesh aperture widths range from 20mm to 180mm in incremental factors of ten. The sleeves are sized to the diameter of the chosen rope.
The general applications of rooftop playground enclosures, such as that employed at PS 163, can mount seamlessly on the existing architecture of the building, where at PS 163, the second story exterior wall of two corners and three walls of the building extended up about four feet, forming a solid wall for the playground. Above that top surface, the stainless steel framing of the wire mesh rooftop playground enclosure was mounted.
The architectural firm chose to use two different wire mesh apertures, both using 2.0mm diameter rope. At the playground solid wall top surface and rising to about ten feet higher, a mesh aperture of 50mm x 90.5mm was chosen, which offers high impact resistant strength to withstand the inertia of an errant playing adult, let alone a child. Even with the smaller mesh aperture, views from the enclosed playground to the extended neighborhood below are superior to that offered by typical chain-link material, and the net is stronger and more corrosion resistant than that dated material.
Higher in the enclosure, a larger mesh aperture was employed using the same 2.0mm diameter rope with an aperture of 100mm x 175mm. The larger wire mesh aperture creates a virtually invisible barrier to provide a pleasing overhead vista from the roof.
Webnet can be left as the natural stainless steel color, as was chosen for the
PS 163 application, or it can be black anodized or galvanized. Additionally, it will accept any RAL or NCS colors. The painted material will be provided upon specification request to accommodate any architectural aesthetic and function. Additionally, Webnet is highly durable, UV and weather resistant.
There is no sacrifice of Webnet durability, architectural feature or convenience of application. It has been employed for multiple uses such as ordinary fencing and barricades, commercial and residential patio enclosures, interior and exterior stairway railings, aviaries, and ground-based, or, as with the PS 163 application, rooftop playground enclosures.
The project at PS 163 is a brilliant example of safe, functional and architecturally pleasing wire mesh rooftop playground enclosures.