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Façades: Curtain walling
Curtain walling is a non-load bearing cladding system located in front of the structure to form an integral part of the building envelope. Although its prime purpose is to create a weatherproof barrier, it can be designed and fabricated to introduce individuality to the building’s aesthetic appeal. While curtain walling is usually characterised by a square or rectangular grid of mullions and transoms, other shapes, such as trapezoids and triangles, can be incorporated in the design. The specification of the glass and use of opening ventilators introduces comfort and light to the internal environment.
High and low rise façades can be created and the designs can be further enhanced with faceted curves, sloped roofs and canopies including ridges, hips and valleys, also pyramids and lantern lights. A façade of curtain walling can incorporate inserts such as tilt and turn, top swing, pivot windows and side hung windows. Concealed vents, either top hung or tilt and turn, as well as commercial doors to suit the requirements of the project, can also be incorporated.
t Guernsey Airport • Architect: Kensington Taylor, Main contractor: Hochtief (UK).
Technal curtain walling with SGG PARSOL grey & SGG SECURIT on the North elevations and SGG SECURIT COOL-LITE & SGG STADIP on the South elevations.
431 • Façades: Curtain walling
including: • full plans and elevations relevant to the works to be carried out • design wind pressure and category • position of available connections to structure • glazing specification. SOLAGLAS CONTRACTING will calculate the required mullion and transom size for each project provided all necessary criteria are supplied. Aluminium mullion Aluminium transom Double-glazed unit Aluminium pressure plate EPDM thermal strip EPDM gasket Aluminium cap Façades: Curtain walling • 432 .33 Façades: Curtain walling Design criteria The design challenge is to create the image but keep stability and weather-resistant properties while withstanding: • wind loads • dead loads due to the self-weight of the installation • building movement • imposed loads produced by the intended use of the building • in certain applications loads associated with guarding. Mullions and transoms The mullions supply the support to a curtain wall screen and the configuration of the box section determines their strength. For a given wind load the strength required for the mullion depends on the span between fixing points and the weight of glazing it is required to support. The depth of the box and/or the addition of internal reinforcing gives a variety of ways to add strength.
square and true dimensionally. the greater the wind load and the greater the panel weight. 52 and 64mm across the face depending on the application and the specific system adopted. Sensible design will also take into account the need to limit deflection in the glass so as not to be visually disturbing. Expansion joints can be incorporated to join two mullions to allow for the vertical movement of the aluminium. Within the grid size. the sight width for a given system remains the same. The correct choice depends on pane size. but for long runs intermediate expansion joints on the transom must be formed. Slotted holes in the brackets at the anchor points allow for movement between the curtain wall and the structure. As each project presents different sets of circumstances. The selection of transom is calculated from the wind load. Mullions and transoms are 45. or have loads designed for the primary structure transferred to the curtain wall grid. 433 • Façades: Curtain walling Glazing Building tolerances and movement Building tolerances must be allowed for as the structural opening and fixing areas may not always be plumb. dimensions. Longitudinal movements for a short run of curtain wall may be accommodated at the wall junction. Thus when designing a curtain wall screen consideration must be given to allow for tolerances within the building make-up. Attention should also be paid to the maximum allowable loading that the transoms are able to carry. the deeper the mullion and transom will be. . At no time should a mullion member be fixed rigid at all fixing points to structure. the introduction of intermediate transoms and mullions lead to a variety of design options for vision and non-vision areas. Maximum and minimum dimensions for tolerances and movement must be ascertained and agreed during the pre-contract design stage. weight of the infill panel and the span. the curtain wall is either hung or propped. method of support and wind load. Generally. Whilst the vertical distances between structural fixings would normally be floors. larger spans can be specified subject to calculation. The infill glass panels must be chosen so as to withstand the stress caused by wind pressure. Although the depth of the mullion and transom may vary between 20 to 200mm. the larger the span between structural fixings.33 Façades: Curtain walling At no time should a curtain wall mullion be used as a structural member within the building. Depending on the configuration of the primary structure. See “Façades” page 419 to 430. it is difficult to give typical sizes. Weatherresistance SAINT-GOBAIN SOLAGLAS uses fully tested and certificated systems. During a building’s life-span the fixing points and openings may be subject to movement which must also be taken into account during the design stages of the curtain wall screen.
All infills are dry glazed using EPDM gaskets both inside and out. providing nationwide coverage from ISO 9001 accredited manufacturing sites.33 Façades: Curtain walling The transom to mullion join can be fixed in a number of ways depending on the site conditions and constraints: • spigot • block • penetrating A pressure plate holds the infill in place and allows drainage and pressure equalisation using slots. Setting blocks are used between the bottom edge of the glazing unit and the frame to support and centralise the unit in the opening. made from EPDM. Mullions and transoms are square cut from sections of aluminium alloy 6063 T6 and conform to BS 1474. The curtain wall sections are thermally improved using an integral thermal strip. The external capping provides a neat finish and is available in a variety of profiles and sizes to suit needs. Wall junction Fabrication and installation SOLAGLAS CONTRACTING offers a skilled and professional aluminium fabrication operation. which separates the internal box from the pressure plates and external cappings. Spigot system transom Penetrating transom Façades: Curtain walling • 434 . Tolerances in fabrication are in accordance with BS 4873.
Surface finishes See “Façades” page 419 to 430.33 Façades: Curtain walling Effective joint design Careful attention to detail is the hallmark of a sound curtain walling system. is forced through a carefully engineered die. It comes out of the extrusion process with a smooth surface protected by a natural oxide coating and is known as a ‘mill finish’. Profiles predominantly used in framing are extruded from aluminium alloys 6063 T6 and conform to BS 1474. between temperatures of 400-500°C. 435 • Façades: Curtain walling . Sections used for curtain walling and window frames are formed by extrusion. Aluminium in this state cannot be relied upon to keep its appearance in wet corrosive atmospheres. The strength of aluminium varies depending on the addition of small amounts of other metals. Although the structural integrity of the aluminium will not be affected. Manchester Architect: Leslie Jones Main contractor: Balfour Beatty Technal curtain walling with SGG SATINOVO Glazing Framing materials Aluminium In commercial buildings aluminium is the predominant framing material because of its: • high strength to weight ratio • flexibility of design and colour options • high resistance to corrosion • good cryogenic properties Aluminium is also eminently recyclable without losing quality. Joints throughout the façade must be designed to allow for: • even distribution of the weight of the glass panel and wind loads upon it • resistance to all loads without distortion • retaining weather-resistant properties • allowance for differential thermal movement • preservation of environmental control properties • means of maintenance • design requirements t The Light Box. Hot aluminium. either painting using a polyester powder or anodising can protect the surface and provide a great range of colour finishes. Gaskets and sealants See “Façades” page 419 to 430.
and/or give off toxic fumes.33 Façades: Curtain walling Brackets Fixing brackets are manufactured from rust proofed steel or aluminium as dictated by the design of the installation. External walls and roofs require adequate resistance to the spread of fire in the external envelope. add significantly to the fire load. Brackets and fixings are designed by SOLAGLAS CONTRACTING specifically to suit the project’s requirements. Such systems are not normally composed of materials which readily support combustion. contact SOLAGLAS CONTRACTING. Fire Curtain walling systems are not normally required to provide fire resistance unless specified. Façades: Curtain walling • 436 . Approved Document B of the Building Regulations relates to fire safety. and that the spread of fire from one building to another is restricted. Key criteria when considering curtain walling: • Overall size and dimensions • Transom / mullion spans • Fixing points • Wind speed and loading • Glass specification • Guarding • Manifestation • Environmental control • Surface finish • Flashing / cill detail For more information.
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