Pushing the Building Envelope

Nick Shore, NSG Group

Derby University - Pilkington Planar™

Compare a city skyline fifty years ago with one from today and the most striking difference is glass. Whereas the skyscrapers and façades of old often featured large glazed areas, these were always framed with thick, heavy steel, brick or stone. Now, as technology and fashions have changed, these same skylines have become vast panoramas of glistening glass.

This is not just because glass is ‘in fashion’. As we discussed in an earlier post, the combined aesthetics and performance of glass products make it far superior to other building materials, and this has driven architects to use glass more in their designs.

The technology that makes full, uninterrupted glass façades possible has been around for decades now. But with constant investment in R&D, and some truly cutting-edge innovations, the different ways architects can use it are changing all the time. Now, structural glass systems like Pilkington Planar™ give architects new opportunities to design buildings in the way they want to.

With Pilkington Planar™, buildings can be completely clad in glass, while the system can also be used to create curtain walls, opening lights, curved glasses and complex three dimensional façades and roofs. Because of the way the system fits together, it can be manufactured off-site and simply bolted together on the ground on the day. This gives architects new creative possibilities as the system can be customised to meet any requirement.

It’s also incredibly versatile from a safety and security point of view too. Pilkington Planar™ has undergone intensive testing to simulate its performance across a variety of scenarios, from seismic activity to bomb blasts and hurricanes. The most important factor here is that the system remains intact under pressure, even if one of the panes is broken.

This flexibility and integrity means the Pilkington Planar™ system has been used for a huge variety of applications all over the world. From the New York Presbyterian Hospital to the University of Derby, the Star City leisure complex in Athens to the Turku library in Finland, architects are using the system to create ever more interesting additions to our cityscapes.

Ensuring longevity and flexibility is crucial when designing modern buildings. As with any structural system of any material, the key to this lies in understanding the effect it will have on the building’s overall performance. When using full glass façades, or any other application with Pilkington Planar™, these effects must be understood and managed from the start. This can range from the way heat and light is transmitted around the building, affecting air conditioning and lighting systems, to the way it affects the usage of each room. Installing a full glass façade in a locker room, for example, is not advised.

Tracking these effects is complex, but the software to do it is commonplace in the architects’ office. As BIM systems continue to become more accurate, specifying full glass systems in the building envelope will become second-nature; enabling more and more architects to design stunning and useful buildings in whichever way they desire.

Nick Shore is Sustainability Director for the NSG Group’s Building Products division. His remit is the creation and implementation of sustainability strategy to ensure it remains a core value at the heart of what the NSG Group does. The NSG Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of glass and glazing systems in three major business areas; Building Products, Automotive and Specialty Glass.

This entry was posted in ECO in the City. Bookmark the permalink.