Getting Bespoke Structural Glass Specifications Right

Designers all over the world are striving to create modern living, learning, leisure or working spaces that are inviting and functional as well as naturally lit.

Curved structural glassThe use of large-format glass structures as part of architectural designs is a well-tested method of creating interior spaces that relate to the outdoors. Various studies demonstrate the impact that natural light has on mental wellbeing, work productivity and attentiveness in learning.

At IQ we work with architects to create glass structures that meet their design and performance requirements. When working with structural glazing the design process to generate a structure that will work in that specific application is more in-depth than that of a curtain walling system.

To create a structural glass elevation or installation that is right the first time the team at IQ undertake a myriad of different modelling and testing programs. Looking at wind load, line load and deflection rates we create a virtual model of the intended structural glazing before a single piece of glass is made.

On the below project we were appointed to create a double-height frameless structural glass façade to a luxury residential development as part of our larger architectural glazing package. This specific frameless glass façade was an important design feature to the historical building. It was also double-height, made from multiple panels, frameless and overhead.

We undertook several FEA analysis with varying wind loads from 400 Pa to 1800 Pa. This analysis was used to determine the most optimum glass specification for strength and safety.

double height frameless structural glass façade design double height frameless structural glass façade design
double height frameless structural glass façade design double height frameless structural glass façade design

Bespoke coloured structural glass

Our calculations can then provide the architect and project engineers with the maximum mullion deflection, max glass deflection and stress concentration.

These in-depth virtual simulations of structural glass facades are very important in the successful specification of architectural glazing.

The above structural glass façade was designed using our exclusive thermally broken structural glass system; Invisio.

The Invisio structural glazing system is a bespoke architectural glazing system exclusive to IQ. It was designed in house by our team to join the minimal design of structural glazing with high strength and performance. The thermal break within the fixing system ensures that the structural glass installation has high levels of thermal insulation whilst maintain the required strength of these structural glass building connections. 


5m tall bespoke structural glazing from IQ Projects

Another example of the importance of correct glass specification in structural glazing is the Story of Gardening Museum. The underground museum used an extended structural glass façade that reached up to almost 6m tall at its highest point.

Structural glazing at this height requires the use of laminates and strengthening interlayers to ensure no bowing occurs. The glass on this frameless façade was double glazing and included various laminated panes to create strength.

The design as well included bespoke detailing. Rather than the traditional black silicone joint most often seen on a structural glass façade, the architects here wanted to use a lighter colour palette with silver accents. To achieve this design, we included a decorative light grey ceramic band around the very outer edge of each DGU. This covered the required black spacer bars of the double-glazed unit. Then, light grey silicone was used over the top of the required black structural glass silicone.

The resulting glass façade had vertical joints of light grey instead of black, which matched the bespoke auto sliding doors integrated into the façade.

IQ Projects bespoke structural glazing

Successful structural glass design must incorporate both the technical structural calculations of a building façade as well as the integral elements of bespoke design revered by designers.

Thankfully, the team at IQ are experts in achieving both a highly polished design with a structural glass design that is robust. 

If you are looking at incorporating any element of structural glazing on your next project get in touch with the team at IQ. They can assist with costing, detailing and specification of the structural glazing at any stage of the project.

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Rebecca is Head of Marketing at the IQ Group and has worked in glazing specification for many years. She has a broad range of technical knowledge about all our glazing products and offers technical advice and guidance to architects for specification. Her easy to digest technical advice is often quoted in magazines and publications. You might also recognise her as one of the IQ Glass CPD presenters.

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