Awe inspiring large format glazing in architecture offers users a sense of vast openness. The market is striving towards longer dimensions and superior quality, while the design community continues to reap and celebrate the benefits of incorporating oversized glass panels into their creative endeavors.
Transparent building envelopes remain highly desirable in contemporary design, offering aesthetic appeal, visually striking views, and occupant comfort with a distinct connection to nature outdoors. Providing vast creative freedom and opportunity, innovative large format glazing offers building stakeholders the privilege to dream big and the confidence to take the plunge.
Large glass installations shape the architectural character of a building both from an interior perspective as well as on the exterior envelope. From inside, the boundaries increasingly dissolve while daylight floods the space. Outside, the large glass façades appear seamless and monumental. The glass industry boasts an impressive and innovative range of large span glazing technology, using the highest quality processing, precision and finishing.
Large glass in history
Extra-long glazing is closely linked to architectural modernism and its desire to open up walls by maximizing any interaction between inside and outside rather than having a balcony or an oriel. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used 5-metre-long SAINT-GOBAIN glass panes in his architectural icon Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, at the end of the 1920s to implement the basic idea of maximum transparency and utmost usage of daylight. And in 1968, SAINT‑GOBAIN supplied glass panes with an excess length of 5.60 m x 3.60 m for the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, making it a floating urban art space.
Since then, numerous projects have been realized around the world, such as the 11 metre glass panes for the Maison de la Radio in Paris, France, in 1963, and the 13 metre glass for the UN building E in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1971. Although not having been manufactured with the technical processing possibilities available today, SAINT-GOBAIN has set standards in producing and processing oversized glass panes – and continues to do so today having many years of expertise in the field.
Designing with large glass panes
Overlength glass panes are now available in many formats, offering a vast range of possibilities to designers. Ranging in length up to 18 metres, overlength glass panes meet the same building physics requirements as standard size glass units. No matter what type of glass and glass finish you choose for your building façade, all glass processing techniques can be applied to SAINT-GOBAIN overlength sheets, just like the usual smaller panes.
Large format glass panes are desired wherever the goal is to achieve open, airy design with a connection between the interior and exterior environment. The spectrum of applications in construction where this particular glazing is used is dependent on the design intention and caters perfectly to a broad range of building genres like:
- Commercial Buildings and Storefronts
- Exhibition and Conference Centers
- Hotels and Restaurants
- Office buildings
- Residential Buildings
- Sporting Facilities
Benefits of Overlength Glass
Buildings which showcase overlength glass panes are visually striking. In contemporary architecture, transparent building envelopes have become increasingly popular, and overlength panes effectively support this creative feature, allowing for more complex and creative possibilities for architects. But there is more to it.
Large continuous glass façades offer high transparency while providing optimal levels of natural daylight entering the interior space, proven to improve occupant comfort, wellbeing and productivity.
Processability and Performance
Regardless of the type of glazing and glass finish selected for the building façade, all types of glass processing techniques can be applied to overlength sheets, just like the typical smaller and standard format panes, with no compromise on performance. The ability to offer a range of coated large format glass panes, up to 18 m in length, is exceptional and highly advantageous. Overlength units with solar control attributes to combat overheating, along with low-e coatings for thermal insulation performance, make SAINT-GOBAIN’s offering truly unique!
As previously mentioned, SAINT-GOBAIN has decades of experience in the production of overlength glazing. This expertise is further highlighted with 8-metre long curved panes by SAINT-GOBAIN Glassolution Glas Döring, Berlin. Whether talking about glass processors or insulating glass unit manufacturers, logistics specialists or building site handling specialists, SAINT-GOBAIN has access to a worldwide network of skilled and reliable partners.
SAINT-GOBAIN’s overlength panes provide a complete offering in the market of façade glass. Designers are provided with tried-and-tested tools, industry expertise and consulting services adapted for modern glass envelopes. The products cater to all traditional façade constructions; mullion and transom façades, system façades, story-high glazing or high gloss glass façades, and both horizontal and vertical installations are feasible.
A complete range of thermal and solar control coatings (PLANITHERM XN and ONE on the one hand and the entire COOL-LITE SKN and XTREME range on the other hand), safety glass and soundproof glass structures are made available, plus the whole spectrum of creative possibilities offered by glass finishing. Experienced partners from all areas: specialist planners, contractors, logisticians to mention a few, can be consulted for insights on the most suited solutions for your projects.
Main Glass Processing Operations include:
- Cut to size, improved edgework, smooth ground or polished
- Drilling of holes
- Bent or curved glass
- Heat-Soak toughened safety glass
- Heat-Strengthened glass
- Laminated safety glass
- Laminated glass with colored and decorative interlayers
- Single or multi-colored digital print
- Full Surface enameling
Logistics and handling with a customized vehicle
Expert logistics planning is imperative to transporting large glass for construction. With SAINT-GOBAIN, transportation and handling of overlength glass is managed in a smooth and secure manner, mastering the challenges of heavy loads and narrow inner-city routes and the complexities of construction sites. Thus architects and façade consultants can rely on the comprehensive experience of our overlength network and fleet of specially developed and customized trucks designed to accommodate the extra-long glass panes and deliver the overlength product in an efficient and professional manner. Panes of up to 18 metres in length and with weights of up to 7 tonnes can be transported to the desired location in full confidence.
Careful planning and preparation is key. For project success using large span glass, one cannot stress enough the importance of getting all partners involved early on, ensuring the characteristic features of the construction, the detailed planning for the building and any special transport variants, routes or installation techniques required to be integrated into the logistic concept in due time.
But even when the overlength glass panes are at the proposed building site, the story does not end: how does this glass come to its correct position? Normal cranes come to their limits quite easily and even if the appropriate machinery is present, you require competent people to perform the task; not to say that every project or task differs greatly.
A recently completed project illustrates such a challenge: The St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, a sports and event hall from the late 70s that required basic refurbishment. After competition in 2013, the first prize was awarded to Berrel Kräutler AG in cooperation with Degelo Architekten AG, Basel. The outstanding canopies characterize the appearance of this structure and thus the challenges of this project: 276 overlength triple glazing units with the solar control coating COOL-LITE XTREME 50/22 II and up to 9 metres, each weighing 1.5 tonnes, had to be lifted into a post-beam façade construction under a 3 m deep roof overhang. The assembly had to be carried out on an inclined surface and was even more complicated due to frost temperatures and strong wind.
For this operation in Tapfheim, the German based company heavydrive supplied two vacuum suction systems to the building plot, attached to a set of special cranes. Thanks to an overhead manipulator, the existing glass panes could be centrally sucked and dug under the 3 m deep façade overhang. The floor inclination of about 15 degrees could be compensated by the heavydrive cranes with its four axes and the three axes of the manipulator. The operator then vacuum-sucked the new overlength triple glass unit produced by Thiele Glas, Wermsdorf, Germany, directly into the transport frame and guided it to the opening. The 3-axis manipulator lifted the triple glazing units under the roof overhang and accurately inserted them into the post-beam construction.
Gallery (below): Tricky assembly of triple glass units with solar coating COOL-LITE XTREME 50/22 II at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland; Photo: ©heavydrive, Tapfheim
Projects like this prove to be exemplary, and there is no quick and easy ready-made solution to the complexity of dealing with overlength glass. Everything needs to be carefully planned, discussed and evaluated in advance with all stakeholders, and prior to production and assembly. SAINT-GOBAIN’s worldwide network of competent partners guarantees professional handling and makes the planning and construction run more smoothly.
Architects and planners can rely on SAINT-GOBAIN and its partners extensive experience in overlength glass. Achieve your desired façade using overlength panes, previously only possible with standard smaller units, allowing a complete range of processing and finishing options for innovative, elegant and performant façade design. Think BIG and ask us for the support.
Visit our WEB-PAGE for more details on SAINT-GOBAIN’s overlength glass, where size AND performance matter!
Article courtesy of Saint-Gobain