Ways of Using Stainless Steel in Urban Space

PUBLISHED 29 June 2017

In modern architecture, the use of stainless steel in urban space is raising. Special profiles and stainless steel sections for individual design are very popular.


stainless steel in urban space - a bridge in Brisbane, Australia

Applications of stainless steel in urban space are various. Urban canopies, handrails and even balustrades can be seen as likely as protective barriers.

Advantages of Stainless Steel

Architects use stainless steel both indoors and outdoors. The corrosion resistant properties make it an ideal material. Hence, stainless steel needs little maintenance. It does not really matter where the installation is.
For interiors, designers generally choose 304 stainless steel. This is due to cost reasons and the reduced risk of corrosion. For outside or close to the seaside installations on the other hand, 316L or even higher alloyed stainless staill will be the choice.
Stainless steel in urban space can be easily brushed or polished. This allows for a more precious surface that has several advantages:

  • aesthetics: appealing finish
  • corrosion resistance: a brushed or polished surface is even less prone to corrosion
  • hygienic: a polished handrail is less a germ carrier and can be sanitized easily

Special Shapes – An Architect’s Liberty

With almost no limitations, it is possible to realize all kinds of duplex steel sections and special shapes for balustrades or handrails. No matter if the stainless steel profiles must be sharp-edged with clear and neat light and shadow separation. A rounded edge is also possible.

handrails and banisters - typical examples for stainless steel in urban space

There are no limits to the architect’s creativity. Therefore, it is important to look for a provider like Montanstahl who can grant custom design to suit the architect’s requirements. So we can design and realize the special shapes best suiting the project. This is possible thanks to different production technologies like cold rolling, laser welding or cold drawing.

Custom Surface Finishes

The advantage of stainless steel is that it does not rust. This ensures a constant and durable material and surface quality in time. The absolute high-end surface for handrails or balustrades is mirror polish. However, a less decent polish (like grit 240) is a more common finish allowing a good balance between precious surface and costs.

Corten Steel

For canopies made of stainless steel in urban space, a common choice is to go for a different material. Instead of opting for a shiny polished stainless steel surface, the selected material is completely in the opposite direction: corten steel.
This material is a carbon steel that with special treatments becomes completely rusty. A second surface treatment blocks this process, giving the surface a mix of rusty brown and carmine reds.

Making a Necessity Beautiful

One can see the concept of tailored handrails, balustrades or canopies with appealing design and finish not only at shopping malls. You can also find it with prestigious urban furniture or office buildings. Necessary and at first look unpleasant urban applications are adopting custom design more and more. A common example are bollards placed for protecting traffic free walking areas, or used as bumpers for shopping carts.
In recent architecture trends, they have become integral part within an overall design. So they do not look like something individually positioned on necessities anymore.

Fence Poles of Stainless Steel in Urban Space

Recentl,y the municipality of Brisbane in Australia decided to erect a fence on the National Heritage Story Bridge. This is because the bridge became well-known for repeated death jumps. So the fence has the function to impede this. However, the tailored curved poles and the fence are both made of stainless steel. For a lifetime installation and protection against corrosion issues, the poles where first mechanically polished and then electro-polished.

safety precautions of stainless steel in urban space

The slim design of tailored stainless steel beams perfectly fits to the walkway of the cantilever bridge design.

There are many variations of stainless steel in urban space. Handrails, canopies, balustrades, poles, or other urban architectural structures – architects and designers are free to create them. Montanstahl can support them in choosing the most suitable option for their project for

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