What to Consider When Specifying a Glass Atrium

Maximising the effect of a glass atrium on a commercial project

Specifying a glass atrium can be difficult as there are many factors to consider. The concept of an atrium has evolved from ancient Roman times. In these times an atrium was considered to be an open-roofed entrance hall or a central court within a commercial building.

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In England the weather does not permit for open roof designs, so the concept was forced to evolve, combining shelter with open and airy spaces. A glass atrium takes the evolved concept ideas and makes for the best outcome, with the natural light benefits of an open roof, without the issue of weather or temperature changes.

When you opt for glass over traditional roof materials, you gain uninterrupted views and free-flowing light. With the introduction of natural light, the atrium can be a key design feature, making a commercial project really stand out. Another benefit of a glass atrium is having year-round use of the enclosed area, regardless of the weather conditions.

Incorporating an atrium into architectural designs increases the usable space of a property, even creating additional storage areas if desired. Where a room may appear dark or cramped, the introduction of a glass atrium above would make the space feel bigger, brighter and therefore immediately more usable. A reception area could be transformed using this method, instantly making the front desk or lobby feel inviting.


Atrium Glazing Systems

When specifying atrium glazing systems, multiple solutions can be combined to create a truly bespoke design. The most popular is a combination of structural glazing and automated opening options. 

IQ can use many systems in conjunction with a glass atrium to create a bespoke end result, even adding to the aesthetic. Adding ventilation can easily be included in this, like an A.R.E.S venting rooflight system or M.A.R.S automated sliding rooflight within the atrium structure, dependant on the project requirements. Having a glass atrium offers better ventilation systems than contemporary roofs are able to.


Key Considerations For Specifying a Glass Atrium

How do you want the glass atrium to feature in the building?

Whether the glass atrium is going to be part of the buildings entrance design or in the centre, these design intentions will determine the aesthetic of the glass. Thinking about the role you want a glass atrium to play in the overall building design will help to determine the finer details. You will also need to consider whether there will be additional windows or doors within the design.

Specifying a Glass Atrium with commercial doors

Glazing specification

Do you require double or triple glazing? If there is a thermal performance you are working towards, the specification stage would be the time to mention this.

Having a thermal performance rating to work towards would impact the design and choices made for your glass atrium. Check if your commercial project requires you to obtain a fire rating for the glass systems before selecting materials.

Coatings or Processes

Processes like heat soaking would fall into this category. Using heat soaked glass may be applicable for a two-storey high or hard to access panes of glass. For commercial projects, solar coating may be required to ensure a comfortable temperature can be maintained year-round. In some environments heated glass is used to prevent condensation on the glass.

Glass box restaurant entrance atria


Usually, entrance designs that feature glass atriums do not require any access or walk on points. A glass atrium as a central feature within a building could have a flat roof or specify a walk-on rooflight. This will need to be considered at the point of design to ensure the area is accessible and safety regulations are met. Opting for a walk-on glass floor would offer the ultimate luxury aesthetic. 


The finish of your glass atrium can be matched to the current or planned aesthetic of the overall project. You can select a RAL colour for any framework included or have frameless glass backpainted in keeping with a modern theme.

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Great George Street 

This specialist seven-storey commercial project based in Bristol underwent a development designed by Barton Wilmore including an IQ frameless all-glazed atrium. Other IQ glazing solutions also included EI30 frameless fire-rated solutions, specialist sandblasted manifestations and frameless effect glass balustrades. Structural glazing was used to create an impressive glass box at the top of the atrium for maximum light intake and incredible sky views and views of the city. 

Find out more about the bespoke specialist glass atrium project here.  



How we work all over the UK: 

With the IQ headquarters being based just outside of London, most of our specialist commercial glazing projects have been in Southeast England, although over the last few years QI’s work around the UK has broadened. 

With regional offices now covering all regions of the country, there are specialist consultants who will be able to assist you with your commercial project specifications and requirements on a regional basis.  

Find out more about our regional offices here 

Contact Us to discuss specifying a glass atrium for your next project, contact the IQ team today at hello@iqprojectsuk.com or call 01494 722880.


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Chloe Thompson

After completing her undergrad degree in Interior design, Chloe decided to join the architectural glazing industry and now works on social media strategies, writes content and manages the day to day marketing for IQ's commercial division.

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