Architectural curved glass is a highly versatile building material that holds almost limitless possibility for architects. As an extremely durable, safe and easy-to-maintain component, it offers an exciting range of uses in buildings. So what is curved glass and what are the key benefits to incorporating it in your designs?
What is architectural curved glass?
In basic terms, curved glass is defined as glass that has been bent in either of two ways:
- Two dimensionally (2D): where the direction of curvature runs in one direction, effectively creating a cylindrical form.
- Three dimensionally (3D): where a multi-directional bend is created, resulting in a complex curvature, for example a dome.
The 2D method is by far the most common, easiest and cost-effective way of producing curved glass. The one directional curve can be formed from a flat glass pane using CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) manufacturing equipment.
By contrast, 3D bending requires the original flat piece of glass to either stretch in different directions, compress into itself or a combination of both. This requires an individually specialised steel tool to define the desired finished shape of the glass piece. The 3D method of bending glass is therefore a lot more labour intensive and time consuming to manufacture.
There are endless opportunities to use curved glass in architectural building designs, be it in a façade, balustrade, spiral staircase, lift shaft, revolving door or overhead skylight. The design opportunities are limited only by your imagination.
What are the key benefits of using curved glass?
Well formed curved glass as a material brings with it several key benefits which will enrich any building design.
Curved glass is an aesthetic winner. The flexibility and flow of this stunning material allows for unprecedented level of creativity in the design of a structure. Under an experienced manufacturer, curved glass is a highly adaptable material with almost limitless opportunity for flair whilst also providing important structural capability. The execution of perfect curves gives architects the freedom to explore more organic and fluid concepts.
2. Strength and durability
The curvature of a bent glass panel makes it highly load resistant and when engineered properly, the arched structure can even minimise deflection. This makes it an excellent addition to structural applications where mechanical strength and durability are a necessity. A well-considered design that incorporates curved glass can even reduce the use of other building materials which would otherwise be needed to maintain structural integrity. In some circumstances this can even result in a reduction to building costs.
Curved glass can also be further strengthened through a process called tempering. In addition to contributing to its general durability, this can also guard it against temperature variations.
Due to its inherent transparent nature, curved glass is a creative way to enrich a building with natural light. Well-placed curved glass allows light to enter into and travel through a building or structure, which is not only welcome for those inside the building, but also reduces the perceived external physical mass. The use of curved rather than standard flat glass means that architects can play with light flow to make interesting effects or to maximise the amount of natural light penetration. The presence of natural light within a building creates a more pleasant environment for those living or working within it and can also help to reduce energy consumption, especially when special thermal coatings are applied to the glass.
What do you need to know to incorporate curved glass into a building design?
Curved glass is a complex material and one that must be understood thoroughly to successfully incorporate it into building design. There are several key aspects you need to know before working curved glass into your architectural plan.
The first port of call should be an in-depth discussion with your chosen glass manufacturer. This will allow you to fully understand and incorporate the material’s strengths into the design, take stock of any limiting features and design a structure in the most economical way.
How do you want it finished?
Having a clear understanding of what is possible in the way of aesthetic finishes such as glass tints, digital ceramic printing, multi-panel laminates, double glazing or any required building standards aspect, will help you make an informed design decision. Once again an experienced glass manufacturer should be able to show you what opportunities there are to enhance your curved glass design project and advise you on the best solution to meet any requirements.
When designing a structure that includes curved glass, it is also important to have a clear understanding of the angles and radiuses you require. Matching these demands to the exact material and manufacturing capabilities early in the design process will help to eliminate any costly design changes. It also means that manufacture of the curved glass can be as automated as possible in order to reduce your manufacturing costs.
If you’re afraid of getting your measurements wrong, especially when a curved glass panel needs to fit a hand-built structure, it may be worth investing in professional help. Here at Glasshape, we provide digital site measuring services to produce electronic templates with unparalleled accuracy, so you can be assured your glass will fit perfectly.
How can Glasshape help?
Glasshape has over 30 years’ experience creating spectacular curved glass in both two and three dimensions. Our wealth of knowledge and combined cutting edge technology sets us apart from other glass manufacturers worldwide. Our industry experts have the ability to bend, toughen, laminate and digitally print glass with ceramic inks and even combine all of these technologies together to create one stunning finished product.
At Glasshape, we pride ourselves on being a solutions-based company and we are accustomed to assisting our clients in creating unique products and managing equally unique design challenges.
Glasshape is continually developing and refining its products and services, providing where possible turnkey solutions that incorporate consultation, digital site measures, 3D CAD design and manufacturing all under one roof. There isn’t much in the way of producing high-quality Curved Glass that Glasshape isn’t capable of doing.
- Full procurement of our stock materials
- CNC cutting and edgework
- CNC bending and toughening,
- Digital ceramic printing
- Multi-panel laminating
If you’re looking to learn more about the exciting possibilities that architectural curved glass can offer, get in touch with the team at Glasshape today.