As designers and users, we have a constant battle between completely removing the inside or outside barrier and keeping homes safe. What if you can do both.
Can glass provide structural integrity and safety
Source: Glass House by Philip Johnson
When we think of glass, we think that it could shatter when it falls or on a strong impact. However, that's not entirely true. Today glass is used extensively in architecture, and not just for windows and fenestrations.
Safety glazing meets the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) conditions and come in two types that are preferred and commercially viable:
a) Toughened Float Safety Glass (TF)
b) Laminated Float Safety Glass (LF)
Source: Guidelines on Use of Glass in Buildings-Human Safety
Let's take a detailed look at toughened and laminated glass with their applications
Toughened glass or tempered glass is glass that has undergone processes of controlled thermal treatment to increase its strength. It is four times stronger than normal annealed glass. Toughened glass properties also include the ability to handle greater temperatures and differentials, as well as fracturing into smaller pieces with blunt edges if the glass fails. This is why it’s often referred to as toughened safety glass.
This type of glass is used commonly in architecture. It finds its uses in multiple elements such as facades, load bearing members, fenestrations, staircases and railings, lifts, skylights, curtain walls, etc.
Source: Lookout Glass by Ike Kligerman Barkley
Laminated glass comprises two pieces of glass with a PVB interlayer. In the event of a breakage, this interlayer holds the glass in place so that shards of glass are not strewn around and cause injury.
The laminated glass will crack and break under sufficient impact, but the pieces of glass tend to adhere to the plastic and do not fly.
In case of a puncture, the edges are likely to be less jagged than that would be the case with ordinary glass. The interlayers work to support and hold the glass to create a strong, uniformed layer even when broken. It is generally used in places where human impact is possible or where the glass could fall and shatter.
Skylights and automobile windshields utilize laminated glass. In areas prone to hurricanes, laminated glass is often used in exterior storefronts, curtain walls, and windows.
Source: Apple Store, Hangzhou, China by Foster + Partners
Retaining the natural properties and characteristics of glass, laminated glass also comes in varying thicknesses and can be created using different glass combinations or coatings to provide different qualities, such as low emissions or increased insulation, allowing designs to be safe and sustainable.
These types of glass are not only safe to use as architectural components, but also strong and versatile, with the right treatment they can save energy and perform well to accommodate your design requirement. Manufactured in any shape, size and form, these tough and more importantly safe types of glass are a designers and users best friend.
An Architect, a writer, a traveler, a photographer and much more, Shivani Chaudhary is, among all, an Architectural Journalist, trying to bridge the gap between the architectural community and the world. With a desire to end career stereotypes, she hopes to inspire young architects to explore their creativity and deviate from mainstream architectural practice.