Spec Finish

Technical We asked three of our members involved with partitioning to write about the issues that they feel are front and centre. DELIVERING EXCEPTIONAL WORKPLACES 10 www.thefis.org I NTERESTINGLY, although the subjects cover competence, steel partitioning and the challenges with atrium glass, the common theme comes back to competency, which includes an in-depth understanding of product availability; and should address the myth that not all systems are the same. The challenges of atrium glazing Iain McAlpine, Commercial Director at Indelgås, writes that using glass within a building provides a myriad of benefits to end-users but, he says, he’s often struck by the fact that, perhaps, just as importantly, it simply transforms a space into something wonderful. There are certainly few better ways to create a stunning focal point within a building; however, as atrium glazing has become more and more ambitious in shape and scale; our industry has been challenged with finding solutions that are efficient and economical while pushing the boundaries of performance and visual impact. Understanding what’s possible Although atrium glazing must act as a protective barrier this does not need to limit other possibilities such as fire resistance, acoustic performance and smoke control; in fact, advances in glass and interlayer technology provide us with more flexibility than ever. Of course, when considering performance, it’s important to take into account that sometimes the more ambitious we make the design, the greater the need for more careful planning and co-ordination. Early engagement gives us the opportunity to critically assess what end users really need and what is required to make this happen. We can all be seduced by ever increasing acoustic possibilities but, for example, this may, in turn, increase glass weights, altering the predicted loading requirements through the building’s structure. Designing for success It’s always advantageous when architects, engineers and construction teams put “buildability” at the core of their initial intent but with atrium glazing, it’s crucial that it is designed with interfacing structure, logistics and tolerances in mind. It’s natural to prioritise our most challenging constraints; however, there are lots of simple things that make a big difference to how we develop an initial client brief into a ‘construction-ready’ design. For instance, the position of the glazed wall will define the need for secondary structure; is it coming off the slab or is additional steel required to allow it to be built vertically flush through the atrium? Will a minimal adjustment to an acoustic rating be the difference between using a single glazed solution in lieu of double glazed, which makes the final assembly lighter, more economical and faster to construct? Can we accommodate the relevant loads on the screen by looking at improved interlayers as opposed to increasing glass thicknesses? In a sense this is pretty basic, but in truth, it’s these choices that define methods of construction as we start to consider whether we build predominantly from the atrium side using craneage or we build from the floor plates using glass lifters etc. Installation The key to dealing with the logistics and installation of atrium glazing is encapsulated by teamwork, experience and an ability to embrace the expertise of our industry partners. At Indeglås, we have strong relationships with our supply chain and their early engagement provides us with co-ordinated, innovative lifting solutions as well as satisfying highly demanding access requirements. Glass replacement Given the expertise in our industry we can always find a way to build safely during the construction stage but we know that initial installation methods are rarely easy to replicate throughout the lifetime of a building. This could well form an article on its own but mitigating the risk of breakage itself is the most important measure available. It isn’t completely effective but the risk of spontaneous breakage caused by impurities in the glass is heavily mitigated by heat soaking glass. If the worst happens, it’s essential that a method statement for replacement is an integral part of the initial construction proposal. www.indeglas.co.uk Turn to page 22 to read FIS Technical and Vetting Manager, James Parlour’s article that explains how to specify and design full height frameless glazing used in guarding so that it is safe in the absence of standardised requirements, methods of testing and certification. Iain McAlpine, Commercial Director at Indeglås

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