Our fascination with glazed facades looks set to continue. They have an enduring beauty, are increasingly functional and have an inherent ability to connect and protect the building occupants from the outside world. The well-being, comfort and happiness of people has been linked to the local environment for generations but it is only in recent times that we have recognised the criticality of designing a building around the needs of the future occupants. Building facades play an important role, providing a statement of architecture and helping in the creation of a desirable place to work or live.
Architecture continues to evolve around local conditions, regulatory mandates and the remits of clients demanding both big and small innovation steps across the network of experts supporting a specific project. Material innovation coupled with expertise can enable modern construction techniques to meet future architectural vision for buildings which are both beautiful and durable.
With this in mind, Dow Corning shapes every aspect of their high performance building portfolio with clever and compatible material and system innovations which contribute to the comfort of the occupant. These are based not only on aesthetics but also energy efficiency and overall building performance which can facilitate exciting design possibilities. Most of these innovations have or are now being implemented.
Thermal performance in a slender design
The Riverlight residential development resides in London, in one of the UK’s most exciting and important areas of regeneration near Battersea. Still under construction, the six pavilions have been designed to provide occupants with outstanding views of London whilst maximising natural light. Each luxury apartment includes a balcony where the specification for the static spandrel balcony door requires a U value of 0.18 W/m²/K (for the centre of the glass pane). Dow Corning® Architectural Insulation Modules, which incorporate a vacuum insulation panel within an insulating glass unit, met the criteria for this installation where space to meet the declared level of thermal conductivity was limited. Inherently moisture resistant, Architectural Insulation Modules offer superior insulation in a slim construction which is 5 – 10 times better than some conventional products such as mineral wool. Able to integrate seamlessly and conveniently within standard curtain wall systems and available in multiple design options, concepts such as Architectural Insulation Modules allow less restricted use of vision glass and the possibility for buildings to become ever more distinctive.
Officially inaugurated in April this year and at 30 metres in height, The Kelpies are one of the largest equine structures in the world. Each component is formed from steel which allows the horse’s heads to exude a mechanised aesthetic. Of the many technical issues this project presented, the fastening of over three hundred external steel plates of different shapes and dimensions which form the horses’ mane, to the primary steel support structure was particularly challenging. High strength bonding of each stainless steel cladding plate with Dow Corning® 896 PanelFix allowed for quick and secure fastening plates designed as curved sections. Highly durable, this adhesive offers immediate green strength and is able to withstand dynamic and permanent loads once cured which can give rise to a vertical motion oscillating in any direction.
The design and development of increasingly complex, high-performing curtain walls has seen the advent of curved glass, or cold bent glass as it is also referred. For reasons of cost and practicality, glass and often insulating glass units, are typically ‘bent’ into position on site. As could be imagined, when an insulating glass unit is bent out of plane, a shearing action occurs to both the primary and secondary seals. One such example of this demanding application is the Citylife Tower in Milan which was designed by Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei. The façade combines design, energy efficiency and performance and incorporates cold bent, triple glazed insulating glass to achieve low u values. To cope with excessive glass stress and to help avoid breakage, Dow Corning silicones have been chosen to provide durability as a secondary seal for the insulating glass in this demanding application. Colour matched Dow Corning structural glazing silicone sealants are also specified for attachment of the glass panels to further enhance the design and aesthetics.
Pure glass aesthetics
Dow Corning has recently introduced a breakthrough technology which has been tailored to improve the aesthetics, energy performance and durability of point fixed glazing. TSSA, which stands for Transparent Silicone Structural Adhesive is a high strength clear silicone film developed to secure the steel connectors of point fixed glass facades directly onto the glass. This application does not affect the integrity of the insulating glass units and is therefore able to achieve long term durability and sleek and flush glass aesthetics. TSSA is particularly advantageous for architects and building owners, as it allows unique design possibilities in glass facades with almost invisible bonding points. Suitable for single laminated glass, insulated glass, clear or printed, the durability of glass units, particularly those which are gas filled, is not compromised as the need to drill through the glass to attach the point fixing bolts is negated. An early project, the l’Ampliamento dell’I.R.C.C in Italy, has just been completed using this revolutionary technology.
Smart in design and performance
Today’s smart engineering and technology solutions for structural glazing can enable design and performance in the most demanding applications such as high wind, hurricane glazing or impact resistance from bomb blast.
New and proven technologies such as those available from Dow Corning combined with new joint designs help accommodate even higher loads using well established silicone technologies in slim joint designs. Smart structural glazing supports the architectural design trends towards increased glass, higher transparency, enhanced natural lighting and reducing frame.
Next generation intelligent glazing
Dow Corning is channeling decades of silicon-based materials expertise toward the development of dynamic glazing for switchable privacy glass and energy efficient smart glazing, which has an enhanced ability to redirect unwanted heat from the sun or allow sunshine to enter for natural warmth and light. These solutions, which are based on siloxane-enabled liquid crystal technology, change their optical or solar control characteristics – switch from clear to translucent – in response to signals from an electronic driver. Benefits of this technology could include elegant switchable privacy functions for internal glass partitions of building facades, optimizing the balance of energy needed for lighting, heating and cooling and achieve better thermal performance without sacrificing design – incorporating aesthetically pleasing, energy saving features into building designs. Dow Corning is aspiring to shape the future of smart buildings. Our dynamic glass solutions, innovative LED materials for expressive lighting, and crystal-clear structural bonding sealants will contribute to building aesthetics, occupant comfort, thermal performance and energy efficiency.
Green, sustainable or innovative?
In an industry which is awash with products which claim to be green, sustainable and innovative, it is typically the architect, designer or specifier that research and shortlist the suitability of products for glass construction according to their documented credentials. They also define how the most appropriate materials can be incorporated into a building, taking into account their capabilities and weaknesses. Dow Corning recognise their clear responsibility to demonstrate what their products can deliver and how they can contribute toward a system, enabling a project team to implement new solutions in line with common goals and objectives.