034 GGP 1214

GGP December 2014

Glass & Glass Processing Transforming a building Structural glazing – popular in both commercial and domestic settings thanks to its ability to create visually-striking structures that offer optimum energy performance, as Phil Savage, commercial sector manager at Pilkington UK, explains. 34 December 2014 inside and out Whether it's a full glass facade or a statement window wall, structural glazing systems have the ability to transform both the inside and outside of a building. Today’s glass products blend desirable aesthetics with functionality, and it's this combination that’s seen structural glazing rise in popularity since it's advent almost three decades ago. What is structural glazing? Structural glazing works by using specially designed and tested stainless steel fittings that connect the glass via a countersunk hole to the many and varied support structures. The glass then creates the building’s external facade, the range of potential support, including glass fins, increase design flexibility and facade functionality. Modern glass-fin structural glazing systems have negated the need for metal mullions, which can also restrict the view from a building. The transparent glass fins provide additional strength and integrity against the elements to create a strong, secure building without compromising on durability or the desired aesthetic finish. Glass fins can be utilised in many and varied environmental conditions and these should be considered during the building design process. This is because fin structures can be supported at the base of, or suspended from, a building, dependent upon the particular design criteria and building structure. In locations such as San Francisco, where earthquakes are a common occurrence, glass facades are often suspended from buildings to help minimise the damage and strain caused by movement between the walls of a building and its foundations. Such systems are just as popular among building owners and occupiers as they are with architects and designers thanks to their ability to allow maximum light into a room, and to create a pleasant living or working space not possible with bricks and mortar. Consider the elements With every glazing specification, architects will consider every environmental factor before choosing a system, and structural glazing is no different – architects should work with the system supplier and specialist sub-contractor to ensure the most appropriate design solution is used. As well as playing a vital role in the building aesthetics, the glass can also help to maximise its performance. This is because it can feature any number of properties, including solar control, self-cleaning or low-emissivity – or even a combination of all three. When installing large areas of glazing, particularly when the property has a south-facing facade, solar control structural glazing units can be specified to help avoid the internal space overheating. This is also beneficial in warmer climates where the sun shines for most of the day. Such advanced glazing technology can help to reduce the need for expensive HVAC units, while allowing high levels of light through the large panes. In colder climes, where keeping as much heat inside a building as possible is critical, structural glazing systems can be specified with ultra-low emissivity technology to achieve optimal thermal efficiency. The same system can also be triple glazed for even better thermal performance. Not only does this maximise internal comfort levels but it also helps to reduce heating bills and a building’s carbon footprint. As architects continue to blend aesthetics with building performance, structural glazing systems will continue to feature in their designs. Whether the brief is to create a building that offers sweeping views of an impressive landscape or retrofit a heritage or listed building to let in pools of light, today's designers have the flexibility to build structures that push the boundaries of modern architecture without compromising on efficiency or performance. “Today’s glass products blend desirable aesthetics with functonality”


GGP December 2014
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