Amphitheater made of glass — fiction or reality
The modern urban landscape is so eclectic that one can easily spot something uncommon among the usual gray rectangles of typical structures. For example, individual facade elements that differ in shape and color.
Among such solutions are curvilinear glass facades. They are used in architectural projects not only in the corner parts of buildings but also in the form of bay windows, entrance groups, glazing of parts of podium buildings, and so on.
However, among the majority of architects and customers, there is a belief that curvilinear glass facades or glass units are very complex and expensive. Due to these prejudices, such glazing options are used sparingly, often resulting in a compromised version. For example, we see a broken glass line made of segmented flat elements instead of an arc.
Is there a good alternative to such "compromises"?
How to make curved glass for facade glazing
Let's find out how difficult and expensive it is to create a transparent structure of curved shape. First of all, how do we bend architectural glass for facade glazing according to safety regulations?
Until recently, radial glass and glass units were made using the method of kiln molding. This process took quite a long time, ranging from 12 to 20 hours. This duration was due to the need to create a corresponding template matrix, a geometric prototype of the required element. A major drawback of this method is that the glass remains "raw" or, in simpler terms, untempered. Such glass can only be used in architectural projects as part of a triplex, which incurs additional costs and increases the time required to obtain the finished product.
However, progress in glass processing and tempering has significantly changed the technological process. Tempering machines have been equipped with a molding block, which has made glass molding for curved glazing faster and relatively inexpensive. The fragments made using this technology have the characteristics of tempered glass and can be seamlessly used for any type of facade glazing.
Let's summarize the technological outcomes. Thanks to modern methods of bending glass according to a given radius, it is possible to obtain curved tempered glass and widely apply curvilinear facades in translucent structures.
So, what hinders the widespread use of radial facades that are visually appealing from the outside and inside?
How to eliminate unnecessary intersections from a radial facade?
A facade is not composed solely of glass units; they are held in place by various types of fittings. Facade glazing typically achieves this through a transom rack system.
However, even securing a glass panel in an opening is not a simple task. To achieve a perfect fit, the curved glass panel needs to be properly aligned with the ridge. The glass unit must have an exact bending radius that matches the radius of the ridge's bend, with a permissible error of only a few millimeters. Any significant deviations make installing the glass unit in the opening impossible. In such cases, either a new glass unit or a new profile needs to be made, both of which are expensive and time-consuming services.
This particular aspect of the process poses a challenge to the widespread use of curvilinear facades. It makes them relatively expensive elements of the construction and carries risks in terms of meeting construction timelines and cost regulations.
However, there is an alternative to these technological processes. It allows for the creation of curved facades without the risk of rework and delays in project completion. This is a patented method of frameless glazing, and it is successfully employed on the projects of the Aestech company.
Based on insulated glass units with higher stiffness, which form the basis of frameless glazing technology, our company has developed a new system for curved glazing without traditional ridges and supports. This is the appearance of facades constructed using our technology, both from the outside and inside.
Thanks to the absence of aluminum profile systems, this type of curved glazing has excellent characteristics and meets all modern energy efficiency and safety requirements. Combined with competitive cost parameters, it becomes a viable option for widespread use in contemporary architecture. These new technologies truly make the world more transparent.
AR&D (Analytical Research and Development) Aestech