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How to turn a dome covering upside down?

Aestech engineers have originally interpreted the solution in glazing.


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Have you ever felt deja vu when you find yourself in a shopping center for the first time? Everything looks familiar as if you've been here many times before. This happens for a reason. Most shopping centers look similar because they are built on similar principles: large areas, lots of space, lots of glass, and lots of light. 

Let's talk about light separately. Today, it is impossible to imagine large shopping malls without aesthetic dome structures, thanks to which the premises are filled with plenty of natural light. However, it should be remembered that everything has its price. The price for these architectural solutions is high cost, complication of the overall building structure, increased operating costs, maintenance need, and the risk of destruction of translucent structures from external influences, etc. 


Dome covers using Aestech Glazing technology
Dome covers in the Smart Plaza shopping center

The requirements for such dome structures are usually based on three characteristics

are usually based on three main characteristics: safety, energy efficiency, and durability. And here we immediately face a problem: it is usually simply impossible to provide them with standard solutions. 

What's the problem with standard solutions using metal-holding elements?

First, it is aesthetics. Conventional solutions are a "forest" of metal structures that spoil the overall aesthetics of the structure. The second problem is the deterioration of energy efficiency because each metal element is a conductor of cold and heat. You don't need to be a great expert to understand that a reinforced concrete floor with appropriate thermal and waterproofing insulation has incomparably better thermal performance than a double-glazed window laid on a metal substructure. 

Usually, safety is achieved through the use of triplexed glass or the use of film coatings (more on their disadvantages later). Energy efficiency is regulated by optimizing the thermal performance of the insulating glass unit or film segment. Durability is a factor that is difficult to predict and, as a rule, domed translucent roofs require regular maintenance and periodic replacement of sealing elements, whether rubber-technical products or silicone sealants.

Fortunately, in recent years, the industry of glass structures has made a huge step forward. New technologies and materials have greatly expanded the possibilities of architects, allowing them to realize their wildest ideas. One of these is Aestech Glazing, a patented technology that allows you to get rid of metal elements (posts or transoms) in glass structures. High-strength double-glazed windows do not require posts or crossbars and are actually self-supporting. Around the insulating glass unit is a tape made of GRP-profile, an ultra-strong and lightweight composite material made of glass and plastic. All the fasteners can be screwed directly into the profile and thus connect the double-glazed windows to each other and to the supporting elements of the building without the use of a metal profile. 

One of the most interesting cases occurred while working on a dome roof for a shopping mall in Kyiv. The main challenge in this project was to bring the supporting structures outside. Only a glass surface with large segments of up to 4 m² was to remain on the inside. In fact, it was necessary to turn the dome system upside down.


Dome covers using Aestech Glazing technology
Dome covers in the Smart Plaza shopping center

Thanks to the system of local adjustment of the supporting elements, construction errors of the openings and mounted metal structures were eliminated. To ensure the required thermal performance of the dome system, high-strength fiberglass was chosen as the material for suspending the support platforms, which has a low coefficient of

thermal conductivity (corresponding to the thermal conductivity of dry wood).

I-beams were selected as the main supporting elements of the structures, which were mechanically assembled into spatial structures. The vertical enclosing structures were articulated with the horizontal elements without the use of additional metal profiles, which gave the structure additional lightness and transparency, providing a sufficiently high thermal performance of the joint zone.

As you can see, even in the process of creating such a typical element as a dome structure, there is room for imagination and original engineering solutions. However, this would hardly have been possible without modern solutions that help architects and developers design and implement them exactly as intended.


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