Chiara Del Core 5 aug 2020 Articles 0 comments

Structural glass parapets: a functional and aesthetic choice

The parapets in structural glass are completely made up of glass panels and do not include connecting and joining elements in other materials. These are transparent, frameless components which must be chosen and installed carefully. Once assembled, the glass parapet must guarantee safety and resistance over time and for this purpose the glass used must be solid and of high quality. These solutions can be used inside residences, commercial and service spaces, but also in outdoor environments such as terraces, balconies and garden roofs.

We will explore the following contents

  • Characteristics of structural glass
  • The use of structural glass
  • Types of structural glass and parapet
  • The legislation relating to the installation of structural glass parapets

Before proceeding to the typological choice of the structural glass parapet, it is necessary to clarify the function that is needed and the aesthetic result to be obtained. In fact, thanks to the multitude of products on the market, it will be possible to choose the type of crystals, finish, cut and additional elements that will be able to restore a very different aspect to the environments. Furthermore, at the basis of every decision, it is necessary to consult technicians and professionals in the sector able to guide the choice of products that are safe and durable over time, in compliance with current legislation and in the realization of a correct installation.                                                                  

Below some advices which can be of help for those who decide to install a parapet in structural glass or for those who want to deepen the topic.

Characteristics of structural glass 

The technological evolution of glass and the introduction of innovative and high-performance products have led to the overcoming of the concept of transparent surfaces confined only to the window elements. It is from this perspective that they are studied new forms and uses of this material that sometimes comes to unexpectedly occupy entire facades, parapets and construction details. Over the centuries, thanks to its chemical-technological characteristics and its versatility of use, glass has found a growing consensus in architecture and when subjected to particular processes, it has satisfied diversified needs with unexpected results. Within this scenario, it is important to specify how this material with its numerous potential must be chosen carefully, taking into account many elements. The first aspect, typical of the crystals used in construction, concerns the resistance to stresses to which they can be subjected and the absence of weak areas. In these terms it is necessary to calculate the static loads, uniformly distributed on the surface and the permanent loads.
The strength level of the glass sheets depends on their thickness and size and the higher the strength, the more unbreakable the crystal will be. Although thicker glasses correspond to higher resistances, there are numerous processes that allow the use of thinner but equally safe glass.

In the case of structural glass, the crystal must possess specific requirements to be considered as such. The first characteristic it must be equipped with is the ability to absorb and withstand the loads and external actions acting on it.
Indeed, the high load resistancepermette to use this type of glass in load-bearing structures that would otherwise be made of materials such as wood and metal. In this way, the glass structure will house the actual panels without the aid of elements that interrupt the visual continuity. Thus the structural glass is resistant, safe and aesthetically pleasing, thanks to its essential transparency. In addition, it is very functional as it is waterproof and easy to maintain. From an ecological point of view, structural glass, and glass in general, is recyclable and promotes energy saving, thanks to its ability to filter the light and heat coming from the environment towards the interior of the building, in the case of external facades and parapets. Another very important aspect to consider is the level of structural glass safety. In fact, the panels must guarantee integrity with respect to their physical consistency, protecting themselves from accidental breakage and static safety in the event of external stresses.

Among the different types of structural glass we can mention U-glass which is obtained by pouring into special U-section bars and becomes an integral part of the structure without the need for a specific frame. Through the use of this particular type, large glass surfaces can be obtained by blocking the bars to the perimeter structure of the compartment concerned.
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