Activating the Fifth Façade: Enhancing Rooftop Design with High Performance Materials

January 20, 2023

As urbanization continues to increase, living space is at a premium. As a result, outdoor gathering spaces are often sacrificed to make way for more housing units. At the same time, post-pandemic life has shown us the many health, community and wellness benefits to outdoor spaces, making them a highly sought-after amenity.

With a lack of available space, developing the rooftop, or “fifth façade,” has become more important than ever before. Facility managers and construction specifiers tasked with building and renovating office buildings, schools, and healthcare facilities are prioritizing health and flexible design while noting the role outdoor space plays on increasing concentration, productivity, healing, and overall occupant well-being and satisfaction.

GKD Metal Fabrics helps architects, designers, and building managers rethink and reimagine rooftop design using woven metal fabric. Engineered primarily from T316L stainless steel, also known as marine grade stainless, GKD combines the flexibility of a woven material with the durability of a proven material for outdoor applications. Most weaves are engineered using stainless steel containing post-industrial and post-consumer content for a low embodied carbon footprint that can contribute to LEED points.

Safety and Privacy

Engineered to withstand prolonged tension, impact, and heavy loads, the material provides reliable fall protection when specified as railing infill and balustrades, and partitions. Additionally, metal fabric partitions can define spaces and establish privacy.


Noise Mitigation

GKD mesh can be used as acoustic absorption to help block exterior noise pollution from nearby highways, railway infrastructure, or ground activity. Weave patterns can be specified to dampen sound without compromising airflow or sight lines.


Equipment Screening

Metal fabric partitions can create attractive screening systems for critical rooftop equipment such as HVAC systems, air handlers, or communication technology. The open weave enables air flow and maintenance access while protecting and shielding equipment from occupant view.


Solar Management

Without the presence of a treetop canopy, rooftops have the potential for high sun exposure which translates to occupant discomfort and higher heat gain for the building. Metal fabric provides effective sunshading and passive cooling when specified as a canopy or open-weave wall.


Green Wall Integration

This popular design feature is used to enhance the rooftop experience through biophilic design. Woven metal walls provide the ideal substrate for climbing plants or rooftop gardening. The highly durable material is resistant to the natural elements, supports watering and plant maintenance and maintains an attractive design when plants are out of season.


About GKD Metal Fabrics

As the leading provider of woven metal fabric for architectural solutions, GKD Metal Fabrics offers architects the ability to create dynamic, modern environments that address numerous building challenges. Drawing on more than 90 years of German engineering excellence and precise American manufacturing, GKD revolutionized the category of metal fabric applications. With thousands of interior and exterior installations constructed worldwide, architects and specifiers recognize GKD as the metal fabric authority. With its headquarters in Germany and five other facilities in the US, South Africa, China, India and Chile – as well as its branches in France, Spain, Dubai and worldwide representatives, GKD is close to markets anywhere in the world.