GL AS S & GL AS S PROCE S S ING
Into the blue
GGP Magazine talks to Charlie Sharman, CEO at Cantifix, about the
benefits of a new glass technology designed to improve building occupant
wellbeing by maximising the benefits of blue light.
GGP: Can you provide a brief background
about Cantifix, and previous work with
Charlie Sharman (CS): Cantifix was founded in
86 by myself and William Sharman. Initially, it
started off as a standard conservatory business,
but it quickly formed a reputation for innovation
and taking on challenging glass projects. This
led to Cantifix being commissioned to create
the first ever structurally glazed building, in
Highgate, North London, and from there,
Cantifix has remained a leader in the field of
structural glazing, taking on ever more elaborate
and complex structures. Today, Cantifix takes
on unique, bespoke glass structures across the
residential, commercial and public sectors.
GGP: You are now bringing a new product
to market, Solstice Glass, which promises
to enhance building occupant wellbeing?
Can you explain the science behind it? And
is it unique to Solstice Glass? What are the
applications, residential, commercial or
CS: The technology behind Solstice Glass has
been inspired by Cantifix’s work on the Photon
Space project. The Photon Space was an all
glass building constructed by Cantifix alongside
researchers from Oxford University and based
on some pioneering study into the potential for
glass to impact our wellbeing. Solstice draws on
this research, culminating in a brand new product
and Cantifix wants to make these demonstrable
wellbeing benefits available to the wider public.
What were the findings of this project? The
human body has evolved to work in sync with
day/night cycles and so in our early evolutionary
history, we rose with the sun and rested when
it went down at night. These mechanisms, by
which our body tracks and reacts to changing
light conditions, are called circadian rhythms.
They affect everything from hormone secretion
to cognitive functioning to energy levels.
Circadian rhythms are mostly mapped to levels
of a particular frequency of light – around -
8nm, or blue light in common parlance.
As most people who’ve experienced jet lag
will know, when your circadian rhythm is out of
sync with the light cycle, it’s not pleasant. You
feel tired and lethargic, with impaired cognitive
abilities and, in some cases, even memory loss.
A similar thing, albeit on a smaller scale, happens
when we aren’t in sync with light cycles. Solstice
Glass has been designed to transmit as much of
the all-important blue light as possible, letting
your body sync to natural light cycles and avoid
all these unpleasant adverse effects.
Solstice is unique in that the glass specification
has been chosen not only to maximise blue light
transmission, but it also minimises background
noise and filters out harmful UVA radiation (the
stuff that accelerates skin aging and has been
associated in numerous studies with increased
risk of skin cancers). This makes it a complete
glass package for improving wellbeing.
Solstice Glass can be used across our
product range, and is suitable for any kind of
project – from home extensions to glazing in
commercial and public buildings. Sectors that
would particularly benefit include healthcare and
wellbeing, for obvious reasons.
GGP: How easy is it to measure the positive
effects of Solstice Glass? You will have to
persuade homeowners and building specifiers
that it is worth paying a premium for
something they can’t actually see?
CS: The technology behind Solstice Glass is
predicated on decades of research into natural
light and the specific frequencies of light which
regulate circadian rhythms. Preliminary data from
the Photon Space show promising results for this
particular glass specification.
Participants experienced improvements in
sleep length and quality, improved alertness
and higher activity levels, as well as better
productivity and even creativity. These were just
the measurable outcomes – participants also
reported seeing colours more vividly, feeling
a stronger connection with nature and better
GGP: What is the cost of Solstice Glass
compared to other coated glass products?
CS: The benefits of our most abundant natural
resource – light – shouldn’t be limited only to
those who can afford a premium. Therefore,
Cantifix is waiving the usual uplift in material
cost for Solstice Glass and offering it as a free
upgrade to all glass orders over m² placed in
GGP: Do you have any examples of current
installations with Solstice Glass?
CS: As it’s a new product, there aren’t any
completed installations yet. However, the Photon
Space uses the same glass technology and has
been travelling around the Nordic countries as
part of a research program by the University
of Umeå, led by former Oxford researcher
Matthew and William Sharman, Charlotte Fox,
and Charlie Sharman of Cantifix