An expanded mesh profile from Locker Group was specified for the facade of a new research and development facility purpose-built for Agilent Technologies in Melbourne, VIC. Designed by SKM Architects as an extension to Agilent’s head office in Melbourne’s South East, the building features a customised facade, which was conceptualised as a light veil that would encapsulate the building perimeter, and provide sun-shading characteristics.

Locker Group worked closely with the architectural team as well as two engineering teams, Bonacci and Tensys to take the concept to completion.

The first challenge was a feasibility study for the cable placement to balance the requirements of aesthetics and engineering. The mesh profile, which was specifically developed for the project, was modelled on an existing profile. The modified Sun 125A mesh profile met the architect’s design intent.

Locker Group designed a new fixing method to attach the expanded metal to the stainless steel cables. Mechanical testing for all the components and connections was conducted, along with detailed engineering analysis to ensure the facade would meet the design criteria and intent as well as withstand any wind loads, especially as the facade returns on several elevations.

Locker Group installed the stainless steel cables and then provided assistance for the installation of the mesh. Thanks to detailed planning, the installation was fast and efficient, even though the mesh required a detailed touch. The intricate nature of the facade meant that the stag ends on each piece of expanded mesh needed to align to the next sheet. This required higher than usual manufacturing tolerances, which Locker Group was able to provide.

The final design outcome looks spectacular by day or night. At night, the facade is backlit by LEDs at each level, providing a striking effect for passing traffic.

Photography: Brent Robinson, Joe Berkelmans