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A fountain with MEVACO expanded metal

Old tradition with a modern appearance

Designing and constructing a unique fountain at a place steeped in history is one of the highlights of Matthias Heymann's career, who since 2013 has been one of two managing directors of Artesia GmbH in Augustdorf. In Vaals in Holland, near the border triangle between Germany, Belgium and Holland, and thus in the immediate vicinity of the residence city of Aachen, the former house of cloth manufacturer Clermont was renovated from scratch. The fountain between the buildings with its wavelike surface made from 1.0 millimetre thick MEVACO stainless steel expanded metal rhomb 110x52x24 conveys the tradition of spinning cloth carried out there for centuries.

From a cloth manufacturer's house to a town hall

Those who come to Aachen in search of the Vaalserquartier district, from the early Middle Ages to the Reformation place of coronation of Roman/German kings and emperors, to cross over the border to Holland, quickly reach the small town of Vaals after a few minutes. There the former house of the cloth manufacturer Clermont, which is used today as the town wall, was completely renovated taking into consideration the original plans of 1761. The builders decided not to reconstruct the dyeworks wing demolished in the 1930s, but upgraded the remaining three-winged complex with a special fountain. "An invitation to tender was sent out to the landscape architects Club L 94 from Cologne", states Matthias Heymann, one of two managing directors of Artesia GmbH in Augustdorf, "which we were able to win with our concept."

The fountain simulates boiling water

The idea of the landscape architects from Club L 94 to simulate boiling water which was used previously for dying cloth with a bubbling effect was a technical challenge. "We installed a pump chamber with the necessary water technology under the surface", adds Matthias Heymann. "The pumps suction water from the chamber's reservoir and transport it to the stainless steel basin via piping systems. Together with an automated dosing system this circulation is responsible for the water treatment, i.e. for clear and algae-free water. A side channel compressor which we installed in the technology tower ensures the desired bubbling effect."

A cloth made from expanded metal floats over the water

But that's not all! "The people from Club L 94 thought about recreating dyed cloths over the bubbling water with help of expanded metal. It was not easy to find the right material for this feature." In the end the right material was found at MEVACO: 1.0 millimetre thick MEVACO stainless steel expanded metal rhomb 110x52x24 fulfilled the desired technical requirements. "Only corrosion-resistant materials were used in the construction of the fountain, i.e. PE or PVC pipes as well as stainless steel. Other materials were ruled out. However, our desired product still had to be flexible, but also very stable at the same time. The one millimetre thick expanded metal allowed us to gain relatively good control of the bending. In order to create stability, our workshop team built a substructure from laser parts in the same waveform. We welded and screwed the bent expanded metal to this substructure. The entire installation is held in position by its own weight."

Huge importance attached to safety

"The effect is astonishing: Like a cloth that is being dyed, 60 m² of MEVACO expanded metal sways over the fountain. "Safety is always top priority for work in the public domain", states Matthias Heymann. "This is why we welded other laser parts at all edges to rule out any risk of injury from the outset. Even if there shouldn't be any entry to the installation, we have designed a safe and slip-resistant installation. You never know!"

Decorative show values at night

The request for the builders to use a rich red as a colour was carried over from the town hall of Vaals. This red is reflected in flags and emblems of the town, where besides the Limburg Lion, Saint Lambert of Maastricht can also be seen. "It is generally possible to achieve all RAL colour shades if the expanded metal is powder-coated accordingly", states Matthias Heymann. This way the fountain becomes a visitor magnet not only during the day. Late-night guests also come by, attracted by another surprise: "In order to also create the effect of boiling water with the cloth spread after the onset of darkness, we installed an underwater LED lighting strip in the side panel of the basin, with which we can set different colours", explains the fountain builder.

Borders no longer exist

And how smooth was the cooperation across borders? "For us it no longer makes a difference whether we work in Germany or Holland", answers Matthias Heymann. "We are part of the German-Dutch local government association Euregio, which also brings some benefits to our trade. The rules and regulations do of course still differ from one country to the other, but we are also prepared for this. Everything in Vaals at least turned out really well."

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