Perfumery behind the steel curtain

When an investor believes that one can either build well or not at all, extraordinary things come to life. By combining passion, ambition, and modern technologies, an extraordinary residential project can be woven, where mobile curtains made of steel mesh by the Polish brand Progress Architecture stand out as a remarkable symbol of this accomplishment.

Garvest Real Estate is a boutique capital fund that creates innovative projects in the premium real estate segment. They boast spectacular achievements such as the Baltic office building, the Pixel complex in Poznań, and the Vienna House Hotel in Warsaw’s Mokotów district. Their latest investment is a luxury residential estate, or rather the development of a historical quarter near Poznań’s Wilson Park. Situated on an exceptional plot in the city center, on the site of the former prestigious Johowa district, which represents a unique example of urban Secessionist architecture in Poland, with a spectacular view of the downtown park and its surrounding elegant townhouses. The Johowa District, dating back to the early 20th century, was built to attract German elites to Poznań and was designed by Berlin architects following the best practices of their school—a truly ambitious endeavor.

The task of integrating contemporary buildings into the park and unique historical context was entrusted to architects from the JEMS Architects team. This is one of the most renowned Polish firms, boasting numerous spectacular projects in office, residential, and public utility sectors. JEMS Architects embarked on a quest to find non-standard solutions that would optimally blend architecture into the surroundings while highlighting the extraordinary qualities of the location.

On the one-hectare plot, the architects arranged volumes with expressive, dynamic forms, orienting them towards the park. The free yet organized form of the houses, with their tectonics, proportions, subtle facade shifts, and quality finishes, pays homage to the character of the exclusive neighborhood. Hidden amidst the greenery, the buildings appear as extensions of the garden, with their curved facades veiled in a silver mesh resembling the crowns of trees, seamlessly blending into the park’s vegetation.

Given such an extraordinary location, the architects sought a distinctive formal and aesthetic feature that would resonate with the project and complement the impressive row of townhouses along Matejki Street. The detail that determined the character of the project and effectively defined the selected facades turned out to be the concept of veiling balconies-loggias with a type of mobile, automatically controlled curtain made of flexible stainless steel woven mesh. From inside the apartments, the balconies-loggias enclosed in steel curtains serve as a passe-partout for the lively picture created by the dense greenery visible through the windows. The privilege of designing in a location practically within a park—apart from the obvious pleasures of being close to nature—presented designers and investors with significant functional requirements. The materials used had to demonstrate resistance to considerable moisture and shading, which alternated with intense sunlight on the upper floors.

The architects opted for a metal fabric in the form of stainless steel woven mesh FEBE S200811, which serves as a distinctive movable screen, providing greater privacy to the balconies open to the park, effectively transforming them into additional outdoor rooms. The loose weave of the mesh creates the effect of shifting curtains while allowing good airflow. It shields from the sun and prying eyes from outside while offering residents practically unlimited views of the park. The automatic drive ensures ease of operation, and the curved shapes of the loggias encourage experimentation with partial screening of space according to personal preference—resulting in facades that breathe and create a very natural effect of intermingling with layers of age-old park greenery.

From a functional standpoint, the stainless steel fabric’s resilience to challenging weather conditions ensures trouble-free operation over time. The appropriate selection of corrosion-resistant stainless steel ensures optimal corrosion resistance, color consistency, and ease of material cleaning.

In the initial stage, consideration was given to manufacturers of metal meshes from around the world. However, the final choice fell on the Polish company Progress Architecture, with whom JEMS Architects had previously successfully collaborated on projects such as the Polish Embassy in Berlin, the Greenwings office building in Warsaw, and LPP in Gdańsk. The decision was influenced by positive experiences from previous collaborations, the exceptional level of commitment from the engineering team at Progress Architecture, and the completeness and quality assurance of certified solutions.

The mockup prepared by Progress Architecture surpassed the competition in terms of flexibility, technical capabilities, and their adaptation to the prevailing conditions in the facility. To achieve optimal transparency, minimal weight, and a visual effect corresponding to the vision of the designer and investor, several types of woven meshes with different parameters were produced. The quality and repeatability of the material were also of great importance.

“At projects of such magnitude, like the Perfumery complex in Wilson Park, we always engage fully right from the prototype stage. Our engineers and technologists, understanding the goal and specifics of the issue, collaborate with architects to find the best solutions. The entire tailor-made design process is based on close cooperation to achieve the desired parameters. Only in this way can both sides of the process endorse the project and take full responsibility for it. Excellent technical support for Progress Architecture systems is our hallmark” 

— says Tomasz Oszczepalski, Chairman of the Board of Progress Architecture.

“In the case of this assignment, we had to address the issue of the weight of the mesh as a requirement of the sliding system and the drives used. We had to propose a modified product that would retain all the desired properties while being light enough to ensure smooth sliding and unfolding of the woven mesh curtains”

— adds Grzegorz Maj, Architectural Sales & Technical Manager leading the Perfumery project on behalf of Progress Architecture.

Metal meshes up close

The woven mesh, such as FEBE mesh, is typically installed in a tensioned arrangement with fittings at the top and bottom. To achieve the effect of flowing fabric, a non-standard installation in an inverted arrangement by 90 degrees was used. The inverted arrangement allows for the creation of a wavy effect in the curtain’s structure. Importantly, FEBE S200811PA mesh does not distort. The entire system was tested at ITB for the required number of opening and closing cycles. The test required 10,000 cycles, and nearly twice as many trials were conducted—equivalent to testing over 50 years of use. Similarly, the tearing properties of the fastenings and the product itself were examined. To ensure color consistency, the mesh is dyed and washed, guaranteeing a clean surface free from corroding contaminants. Practical observations from other Progress Architecture projects demonstrate that the color change process is imperceptible over several years of use. Furthermore, the use of suitable grades of stainless steel resistant to corrosion tailored to the corrosiveness class of the environment allows for durable cladding without corrosion. Mesh facades are also self-rinsed by atmospheric precipitation, which, combined with the applied material and its smooth surface, makes such facades practically maintenance-free.

Metal grilles and meshes are not just building materials—they are design elements that represent the highest standard of architectural finishes. Their intricate patterns, textures, and three-dimensional effects add depth and character.

Alongside the interplay of light and shadow, the appearance of the building evolves, and the varied color palette of different types of steel (stainless, galvanized), aluminum, copper, brass, and bronze creates virtually endless possibilities for transforming spaces into visual masterpieces.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, these materials offer practical advantages both in interior applications (such as ceiling and wall systems) and exterior applications (such as facades, balustrades, or fences). Woven metal meshes can serve as sunscreens, offering energy-efficient solutions by reducing the heating of the building’s surfaces while allowing natural light to pass through. Additionally, they can enhance safety by acting as protective barriers or providing privacy. Welded grids, on the other hand, offer minimalist design and form discipline. Often used on facades, ceilings, as well as surfaces of walkways, bridges, or stairs. Their high load-bearing capacity and structural integrity make them ideal for applications requiring high strength without aesthetic compromises.

The immense potential of architectural woven meshes and grilles has been recognized by renowned design teams both in Poland and worldwide. Progress Architecture has in its portfolio inspiring projects with the most prestigious architectural firms, including JEMS Architects, APA Wojciechowski, Kuryłowicz & Associates, Atelier Loegler, Maison Edouard François, Wilmotte & Associés czy David Chipperfield Architects.

“We’ve been continuously benefiting from PROGRESS ARCHITECTURE’s innovative solutions for over two decades now. The incredible potential of architectural meshes and grilles often makes them one of the most recognizable design elements, and our joint projects leave a lasting impression even many years after completion. We particularly value their commitment and professional support and advice at every stage of the investment. They are a trusted partner in creatively shaping space.”

– Marcin Sadowski, partner and associate at JEMS Architects.

Go to the full article of the December issue. Architektura & Biznes : “Perfumiarnia-behind the steel curtain

Photos: Dominika Wilk Fotografia

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