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Engineering Transparency – Current international trends in the use of glass in buildings.

A report submitted to the Institution of Structural Engineers Educational Trust. The report was
prepared with the financial support of the Pai Lin Li Travel Award 2008.
Dr Mauro Overend
Lecturer in Building Engineering Design
Department of Engineering, Trumpington Street, University of Cambridge CB2 1PZ
Tel. 01223 332 659; Fax. 01223 332 662; Email:


The use of glass in buildings is evolving rapidly in response to end-user requirements of lightness,
robustness and energy efficiency. This paper seeks to identify the current engineering challenges
in this field and describes how recent technological innovations in glass design, manufacture and
construction are creating opportunities for using glass in novel ways. The findings in this paper are
largely based on a series of visits to centres of excellence in glass research design and
manufacture across Europe. Each visit consisted of a tour round the facilities, and a structured
interview with at least one person from the host institution / company. The visits often included
additional site visits close to the host institution / company. The paper therefore provides a
macroscopic account, rather than a narrow detailed view, of the current trends and possible future
developments in this exciting field.
Glass has fascinated people ever since its discovery more than 4000 years ago. Since then it has
become a ubiquitous material in buildings and its use has evolved rapidly over the last 30 years.
There has been a noticeable shift from traditional small window infill panels, to large area structural
glass and solar energy products. These novel applications are the result of a quick succession of
technological innovations in heat treatment processes, bending techniques, laminating materials
and high strength connections that are underpinned by an improved understanding of the
fundamental mechanical and physical properties of glass.
Glass also has a significant economic and environmental impact on the built environment. Glazed
building envelopes constitute up to 30% of capital building costs and the performance of glazing
has a major influence on the space heating, cooling and lighting in buildings that in turn account for
approximately 33% of end-user CO2 emissions. The total commercial glazing market in the UK is
£2.9 billion annually and 450million square meters of glazing are used for building envelopes in
Western Europe. Worldwide production of glass has for the last few years increased at 5%
annually, while glass for renewable solar energy applications is increasing at 15% per annum. In
addition glass has a major impact on the comfort and well-being of building occupants, mainly
through the transmission of natural light and the reduction of glare. The safety of building
occupants and pedestrians is also significantly affected by glass. For example, up to 80% of
human injuries from city centre blast events are glass related.
The recent innovations in glass manufacture and engineering create unprecedented opportunities
to design and construct robust, efficient and delightful structures, but in doing so engineers are
faced with equally onerous challenges. The major barrier to progress is the fragmentation of
knowledge which is exacerbated by the notoriously secretive glass industry. Structural
engineering-led research on glass is increasing but still well below the research levels in other
mainstream construction materials. Furthermore, few university curricula include anything more
than a basic introduction to glass. In practice, the lack of detailed standards and guidelines affords
a substantial freedom for developing exciting new products and structures, but it inevitably results
in challenging engineering problems that must often be resolved on a project-by-project basis and
leads to significant national and regional differences in dealing with the same problems.
This paper maps out the current trends in glass engineering and is based on a series of visits to
and interviews with leading manufacturers, designers and researchers conducted by the author

and the subsequent exchange of information. During the initial discussions with the interviewees.Stained glass windows at Sainte Chapelle. 5. This paper identifies the relevance. Guidelines and standards – The use of national and international standards and guidelines in glass engineering. 2 Dematerialisation and the quest for maximum transparency The unique optical qualities of glass were apparent since Roman times and the desirability of large areas of glass was already evident in the awe inspiring gothic cathedrals (figure 1). 1 . where glass panels are bonded onto a backing metallic frame by structural silicone thereby eliminating the external capping piece. the recent innovations. the barriers to further progress and the future opportunities in each of the above listed areas. the following five themes emerged as the principal areas for innovation.The role of glass in improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Figure 1 . Figure 2 – Typical glazing in timber frame in 17th Century building.The quest for the all-glass structure which has changed the use of glass from a cladding material to load bearing elements. Dematerialisation . Subsequent innovations aimed at reducing the solid elements in façades include structural silicone glazing. As a result good quality flat glass could only be produced at high cost which limited its use to the prestigious buildings of the day (figure 2) and even then panels were limited to relatively small sizes by today’s standards. The invention of the float process by the Pilkington brothers in the 1950’s had a dramatic impact on the use of glass as for the first time high quality glass could be produced in large sizes at a relatively low cost. 3. 4. Paris constructed in 1246. but this required labour intensive and expensive techniques such as casting of glass followed by manual grinding and polishing. Blob architecture –The ability (or inability) of glass to cope with geometrical complexity and ‘freeform’ surfaces. and the more recent development of mechanical fixings where the glass is supported at discrete points by articulated or flexible stainless steel fittings (figure 3). Energy efficiency . 2. challenges and opportunities: 1. By the 17th century larger areas of high quality transparent glass could be produced. Robustness .The need for robust glass elements and structures and the ways in which glass can sustain heightened threats and extreme events.

From an environmental performance perspective. staircases. in particular the ability to predict the strength and variability of glass.The transparency.g. Dematerialised façades are still very desirable due to: • The aspirational qualities of glass clad buildings. Figure 4 – Glass wall used as rain / wind screen in Central Station Berlin (courtesy of Steel Construction Institute. 2 . The development of high performance mechanical connections that seek to reduce the stress concentrations while improving the post-fracture performance of glass (figure 5). These benefits must however be balanced with the building physics requirements of improving the energy efficiency of buildings such as reducing the amount of unwanted heat gains and losses through the building envelope and improving comfort for building occupants by for example reducing glare. but there has been a recent divergence in approach between the glass used in building envelopes and the glass used in installations that do not have any environmental performance requirement to fulfill (e. semi-protected / transition spaces and screens from wind and rain in temperate marine climates where thermal mass and insulation are less important (figure 4). • The uniformity and quality of finish. there is very little use for the all glass façade. Figure 3 – Four point articulated bolted fitting at the Parc De La Villette. durability. In glass installations that are not constrained by environmental performance requirements the quest for full transparency. • The improved letability of large percentage glazing buildings probably due to the fact that buildings are often let when vacant i. • The high durability and low maintenance of glass. the trend for maximum transparency seemed to reach a climax in the all glass façades of the1990’s. The notable exceptions are nested thermal spaces. In the case of glass intended for building envelopes.e. The industry has been edging closer to this with the recent advances in: • • • The characterisation of the mechanical properties of glass.). • Daylight penetration and the resulting sense of well being for building occupants. uniformity and ease of maintenance make glass a desirable material. when full height glazing looks best. internal walls and floors etc. The improved quality of laminated glass that leads to less delamination and better long term performance and appearance. RWTH Aachen). lightness and the all-glass structure persists. As a result there have been some noticeable retreats forms the fully transparent façade. Paris constructed in 1984.

• • • The development of stiff adhesives and interlayers such as the Sentry Glass Plus interlayer by DuPont. The construction of large autoclaves that enable glass to be laminated in large sizes of 3.5m by 15m in Europe and up to 8m by 20m elsewhere. 3 . Figures 5a and 5b – Enhanced mechanical fixing with triple laminated glass (courtesy of RFR). Figure 6 – Glass bridge constructed from cold bent glass plates laminated with Sentry Glass Plus interlayer (courtesy of Seele). The development of glass-to-metal bonded fixings that eliminate the need for drilling holes in glass and reduce the stress concentrations around the joint (figures 7 and 8). that enables glass plates to be laminated and lapped together in a similar way to Glulam timber (figure 6).

and developing innovative methods of joining glass together would seem to address most of the current challenges in this area. glass thickness. The large sizes and prominence of the glass elements means that quality of fabrication and low tolerances come to the fore. Although the quality of lamination has improved there are only a handful of manufacturers and installers who can laminate and install glass to the low tolerance levels and high quality often required in glass structures. interlayer type etc. namely: • • • • • The reduction or elimination of metallic elements from glass is a novel development and often requires expensive prototype testing on a project-by-project basis (figure 9). Figure 8 – Connection detail of glass staircase showing steel insert bonded to laminated glass (courtesy of Eckersley O'Callaghan). but despite these advances there are several challenges and barriers to further developments.Figure 7– Glass staircase (courtesy of Eckersley O'Callaghan). 4 .). Bonding bits of metal to glass reduces the need and expense of bolting through glass but the fixing is still visible and causes stress concentrations in glass such that it often governs design (e.g. The large glass panels that are now possible are often limited by transportation. In this respect the further improvements of stiff / strong interlayers and ongoing investigations into the long term performance non-silicon based adhesives present exciting opportunities for devising all-glass structures (figure 10). number of plies. The transparent structure is still the vision. at least in non-façade applications of glass. These innovations have enabled glass to be used as load bearing elements where the glass contributes to the load bearing capacity of the structure. Most design guidelines do not distinguish between key load bearing glass elements and secondary glass elements. access and replacement considerations.

and annealed (float) glass has a relatively low tensile strength and breaks into large sharp shards that constitute a major risk of injury. the use of PVB laminated glass does not in itself guarantee an adequate post-breakage performance of the glass element and there have been several reports of laminated glass sagging like a ‘wet towel’ and tearing away from the supports. Annealed glass can be treated or combined with other materials to produce a ‘safety glass’ product that has some ability to reduce the likelihood of injuries. heat treated or chemically strengthened) with a visco-elastic polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer. When laminated glass is broken. 5 . Figure 10 – Testing of glass-to-metal adhesive joints as part of European research project led by RWTH Aachen. However. it is essential that redundancy through alternative load paths is available to ensure that the failure of one glass element does not cause disproportionate collapse of the remaining parts of the structure. The robustness of glass structures Glass is inherently brittle. but it is often not considered safe enough. Cambridge). 3. the interlayer tends to hold the glass fragments in place thus reducing the likelihood of injury from falling or propelled shards. as the mass of falling glass (albeit in rounded dice) is substantial and may cause injury. Showing (a) single lap shear test and (b) modified T-peel test (courtesy of Glass and Façade Technology Research Group. The prevalent form of safety glass is laminated glass. This is undoubtedly an improvement.Figure 9– Testing of novel bolted connection (courtesy of Ramboll). Figure 12 – Laminated glass composed of two sheets of annealed glass illustrating the superior post-breakage capacity (courtesy of Ramboll). which generally consists of two or more layers of glass (annealed. On a system level. Figure 11– Laminated glass composed of two sheets of fully toughened glass illustrating the low post-breakage capacity (courtesy of Ramboll). particularly when fully toughened glass plates are used in the laminated unit (figures 11 and 12). Heat treating the glass to produce fully tempered (toughened) glass increases the tensile strength of glass and modifies the fracture patterns to small rounded dice.

The relatively high level of threats of extreme loading on glass structures ranging from malicious attacks (bomb blast and impact) to natural events (high wind pressures and flying debris) and fire means that it is essential to consider the performance of glass under extreme loads and in particular its post-fracture performance. Heat strengthened glass has a design tensile strength of approximately 59MPa (compared to the short term design strength of annealed glass of 18. 6 . the anticipated actions on the structure and the critical nature of the element in question. Chemically strengthened glass has a design tensile strength of up to 250MPa and fails in large fragments thereby providing good post fracture resistance. The improved knowledge of interlayer behaviour under short and long term conditions. The glazing industry has responded to the post-fracture limitations of glass and the increasing severity of normal and exceptional loading conditions by developing a wide range of new products. but at a high cost. The development of heat strengthened glass and chemically strengthened glass. The adoption of design approaches that ensure that there are alternative load paths in the glass structure (figure 13).In general it is inappropriate to classify a glass product as ‘safety glass’ because the degree of safety is specific to the boundary conditions. Figure 13– Glass panel failure at the Parc De La Villette in Paris showing adequate provision of alternative load paths Figure 14 – Routine soft body impact test to assess post-breakage performance of glass. However. its lower plastic deformation relative to conventional PVB means that it is less appropriate for absorbing high energy loads such as blast loading. The principal innovations in this area are: • • • • • The stronger and stiffer interlayers such as DuPont’s Sentry Glass Plus interlayer which often provides an enhanced post-breakage resistance.5MPa and the design tensile strength of fully toughened glass of approximately 100MPa). and fails in large pieces thereby providing a superior post-fracture resistance than that of fully toughened glass (figure 12). As a result a glass structure may be deemed safe if it ensures adequate strength and stability for normal actions and in addition it provides safe failure or adequate residual post-fracture capacity thereby minimising the risk of human injury. The development of edge retention and enhanced connections that provide a fail-safe system (figure 5).

in particular the adoption of nonuniform rational B-spline (NURBS) in CAD software for representing free from surfaces (figure 16).Figure 15 – Four point bending test on laminated glass to assess post-breakage performance as part of feasibility research project supported by the IStructE and Pilkington showing (a) Hinge mechanism (b) Arch mechanism (courtesy of Glass and Façade Technology Research Group. the causes of failure and resulting fracture patterns which governs post-breakage behaviour are still elusive. Cambridge) . Accurate methods for assessing post-breakage performance and novel enhanced glass elements and connections will lead to rapid development in this area. • Despite the improved understanding of the strength of glass and the properties of the interlayer. namely: • The recent developments in CAD technology. This requires use of existing test standards. This may lead to overly conservative structures or result in unsafe glass structures. • The use of computer aided manufacturing in the construction industry specifically the use of programming tools for converting three dimensional CAD models into CNC code for driving machine tools in the workshop. There are several on-going research activities in this field such as: • Experimental and analytical work aimed at predicting the post-fracture performance of glass analytically and numerically (figure 15). namely: • Determining security requirements and risks for a glass structure and the associated task of quantifying the magnitude and characteristics of the extreme loads are non-trivial tasks. In this area there is the opportunity to adapt the ‘fusible link approach’ used in aerospace engineering where safety coefficients are calculated and damage tolerance and fail safe concepts are rigorously checked rather than simply taken on board in an informal manner. Prototype testing is therefore specified as a matter of course to validate calculations of novel structures (figure 14). 7 . One of these is Blob Architecture in which buildings and particularly their envelopes have an organic free form shape. • There is no formal method for applying the fundamental ‘fail-safe’ concepts in glass design. There are several challenges in ensuring adequate post breakage resistance of glass structures. Safety and robustness considerations are essential in glass design and although there have been several improvements in this area there is a general inability to predict the post fracture performance of glass leading to expensive project specific prototype testing. • Work leading to an integrated design approach that operates at the component level and the system level. Blob architecture relies heavily on the recent developments in digital technology. A particular difficulty in this regard is simulating and validating the characteristics of a blast load as it travels through the street canyons of a city centre. Producing geometrically complex glass structures We are currently in a late style of architecture which seems to be characterised by several emerging styles competing for international dominance. • Investigations into reinforced glass elements that enhance their post-fracture performance. but often requires adapting tests to suit the application such as adjusting pass / fail criteria or changing impact forces. 4.

RWTH Aachen).and post-processors in engineering analysis software (figure 17). 8 . Figure 16– Wireframe CAD model of Centre de Communication Citroen. Despite this shortcoming there have been several developments which have made the use of glass on free form buildings possible. Figure 18– Triangulated shell structure at BMW world. Figure 19 – Front view and connection detail of Centre de Communication Citroen. Figure 17 – Finite element analysis showing principal tensile stresses around bolt hole in a glass plate. Glass is produced in flat sheets on the float line and it does not naturally lend itself to the curved surfaces of Blob Architecture.• The development of powerful finite element analysis software that can analyse free from continua and the development of powerful graphical pre. Paris (courtesy of Steel Construction Institute. This is one area of application where more flexible and easily formed materials such as ETFE seem to have an advantage. albeit at a significant capital cost. Munich. RWTH Aachen). Paris (courtesy of Steel Construction Institute.

The second is to force two or more layered glass panels into a curved shape and hold them in position while laminating them in an autoclave. There are two variations to cold bent glass. This may be mitigated by panelising the curved surface to generate the least possible number of different sized panels. It is likely that the demand for curved glass panels will increase in the future. The glass is then cooled slowly to avoid any residual stress (figures 20 and 21). Insulated glazing units (IGU’s) the curvature is often limited by the maximum shear strain along the edge seal. Cold bent glass is cheaper to produce than sag bent glass but the maximum curvature of cold bent glass is limited by the tensile strength of the glass. A technique currently being researched aims to redress some of these difficulties by discretising a double curvature surfaces into a series of single curvature strips (figure 24). In such cases it is necessary to adopt the more expensive option of producing curved sheets of glass. but it becomes prohibitively expensive for bending a single piece of glass for a building. Cold bent glass also has the advantage of providing a curved surface with very few optical distortions (figures 6 and 23). Paris (courtesy of RFR). There are also other problems associated with the sag bending process. • Sag bent glass that is subsequently laminated may cause problems of misaligned holes and uneven interlayer thickness. When the glass is laminated the curvature is retained by virtue of the longitudinal shear stiffness of the interlayer. namely: • The high temperatures required for sag bending damages the soft coatings on glass. Figure 20– Single curvature sag bending of glass. allowing the glass to soften sufficiently to take the shape of the mould. One of which is the curvature of the glass which may be overcome by discretising the free from surface into a mesh of planar triangular elements (figures 18 and 19). A triangular mesh is not always aesthetically acceptable. The extent of which depends on whether Blob Architecture will develop into fully fledged architectural style that is 9 . Sag bending is a reasonably cost effective process for producing curved vehicle windscreens as the mould can be reused several times. The traditional technique is by sag bending whereby the flat glass is placed over a mould and heated to approximately 600°C. There are several limitations and high costs associated with double curvature glass elements. The first is by forcing monolithic glass into a shape and securing it into the bent position by mechanical fixings (figure 22). • Double curvature glass cannot be heat treated. The other difficulty is the variation in panel sizes that are often required to build up a curved surface. Figure 21 – Lentille.Curved geometries pose two major problems for glass. but caution should be exercised when using hot and cold bent glass next to each other as the finished appearance may vary. entrance to Saint Lazare Metro Station. A recent major innovation in this area has been the development of cold bent glass where the glass is bent at ambient temperature thereby inducing flexural stresses in the glass.

10 . Another opportunity in this area is to use the glass surface as a load bearing shell. The main challenge for producing curved glass elements is to understand the permutations and combinations of the manufacturing and installation processes and the consequent constraints on what is possible. thereby reducing (and possibly eliminating) the need for a supporting subframe. Strasbourg. Germany (courtesy of Interpane). Figure 22– Cold bent glass at Peek & Cloppenburg store. This technique is however very promising and has yet to be fully exploited in practice. but it is unclear whether there is a full understanding of the long term performance as the interlayer creeps under long term longitudinal shear strain. This understanding is not limited to glass but also extends to the interfaces between glass and the other elements of the building which become more complex with freeform shapes. Cold bent glass is a very recent and exciting development. Cologne. Figure 23 – Cold bent glass at TGV Station. Figure 24– Representation of double curvature surface with strips of single curvature strips (courtesy of RFR and Evolute).adopted internationally. rather than an inefficient cladding material. France (courtesy of RFR).

The process takes place in a long vacuum chamber through which the glass substrate is passed on rollers (figure 26). The coatings are generally low emissivity coatings that reduce the radiant heat loss / heat gain from / to the glass surface or selective transmission coatings on glass that have the ability to transmit a larger proportion of the visible electromagnetic spectrum while reducing the transmission of the unwanted near-infrared radiation. where heating. In warmer climates (e.5. Having several targets in series also enables multiple complex coatings to be applied in one run. tin oxide. Northern Europe) there are conflicting requirements of maximising light transmittance and minimising heat loss. Middle East region) it is impossible to have a full glass façade and achieve performance without relying heavily on mechanical air conditioning systems.g. Figure 26 – Coating machine incorporating multiple (more than twenty) targets (courtesy of Interpane). silicon dioxide or titanium dioxide that constitute a high performance coating. In colder climates (e. There have been several developments in high performance glass coatings generally applied by the magnetron sputtering technique whereby a solid target material is bombarded by energetic ions which cause atoms from the target to be deposited on the surface of the glass substrate. The improvements are such that the frame is often the major source of thermal bridging in a contemporary glazed façade. There are evident regional differences in this area. cooling. There is also a growing recognition that buildings are responsible for a large proportion of CO2 emissions . The targets are often placed in series to enable the build up of multiple layers of silver and metal oxides such as zinc oxide. In an attempt to reduce energy demand in buildings there have been a raft of national and international targets and regulations for energy efficient buildings.g. The preferred solution in these climatic regions is to use large area glazing but with high performance glass sometimes in conjunction with passive energy efficient systems such as natural ventilation. In addition there have been rapid technological advances in glass leading to substantial improvements in the thermal transmittance (U-value) and the solar heat gain coefficient (G-value) of glazing units. ventilating and lighting of buildings account for a third of all global CO2 emissions. Glazing has traditionally been regarded as a weak element in the environmental performance of buildings. The latter is often strictly regulated. double skin façades or shading devices (figure 25). Glass with high performance coatings are often assembled into double or triple glazed IGU’s to protect the 11 .approximately 40% of end user CO2 emissions. Figure 25 – Double skin façade with screen printed pattern to reduce heat gain (courtesy of Interpane). Reducing energy demand in glass clad buildings Public awareness of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the effects on climate change has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. but the benefits of glazing such as the introduction of natural light into a building and the resulting sense of wellbeing for building occupants should not be underestimated.

High performance films such as the XiR film that is laminated between two layers of glass are also available.5 W/m2K respectively.coatings and produce U-values as low as 1. Another recent innovation is vacuum insulated glazing such as Spacia produced by Pilkington / Nippon Sheet Glass. There appears to be a growing research and development activity in actively controlled façades where the occupant or the building management system can control the transfer of energy through the building envelope as the need arises. This area presents three interrelated challenges. With this in mind it is not surprising that there is a paucity of standards and guidelines for the structural use of glass in buildings. National and international standards for the use of glass in buildings A standard is essentially a best practise guideline which may feasibly be written when the subject area has reached a certain level of maturity within the engineering community often through a combination of normative research and design / construction experience. Civil engineering-led research in this field is increasing but is still well below the levels seen in other mainstream construction materials.0 W/m2K and 0. In order to meet the required reduction in CO2 emissions it is however insufficient to deploy this technology in state-of-the-art low impact buildings. Standards therefore tend to lag behind the latest research activities and the novel construction projects.2mm vacuum and held apart by glass micro spacers. With such efficient building envelopes and by integrating renewable energy technologies into façades. This involves glass sheets that sandwich polymer films or solutions that have the capacity to change colour and light transmittance in response to an external stimulus such as a temperature change or a potential difference. although improving. The standards vary in detail and complexity ranging from design charts in some countries to more detailed manual calculations 12 .41 with clear glass and a light transmission of 72%. Some products based on eletrchromic or suspended particle devices are starting to appear on the market. Design guidelines and standards such as the IStructE’s manual on structural glass1 and the more recent IABSE’s structural engineering document on glass2 are few and far between and require regular updating to keep up with the rapid pace of developments.and four. but this inevitably results in a substantial amount of national and regional diversity in glass engineering solutions. client aspirations and occupant well-being. In most developed countries there is a basic standard for glass design that tends to cater for standard cases such as two. but it is essential that this technology is made simple enough and sufficiently cost effective to be used in existing underperforming buildings. Metallic and ceramic coatings may also be used in patterns to partially opacify and shade the glass (figure 25). Likewise national and international standard on the structural use of glass are still in their infancy. During the last ten years there has been substantial research and development activity in chromogenic glass.edge supported glass plates. • Determining the optimal level of glazing to balance the divergent requirements of energy efficiency. 6. High performance glazing is available and it appears that the technologies currently under development will improve the performance of static glass products even further. This film has a G-value of 0. This consists of two sheets of glass separated by a 0. is still limited. This reduced level of regulation affords a substantial degree of freedom in which architects and manufacturers can develop exciting new products and structures. A 6mm thick vacuum insulated unit may provide the same thermal performance as a 24mm thick conventional double glazed unit. but vacuum insulated glazing is still relatively expensive. • Using high performance glazing in existing and underperforming buildings that represent the largest contributors to CO2 emissions. but the cost is prohibitive for most applications and their long term performance. it is conceivable that the glazed building envelope will be transformed form energy sink to energy source whilst maintaining its desirable properties of full or partial transparency. namely: • Deploying and integrating these fast developing technologies to the best effect.

In addition. None of the current standards however provides the basic parameters for glass design that are essential for designing novel glass structures. For example the performance of all coatings must be measured. Increasing regulation on energy efficiency in buildings such as the Part L Building Regulations4 in the UK has resulted in the reduction of clear glazing in building envelopes. More recently there has been a proposal to the European commission for the development of a comprehensive Eurocode on glass6. but two overarching observations may be drawn. but have to prove each design through local unsophisticated codes. A negative decision would undoubtedly be a major setback to the glass engineering community. As a result the design of novel glass structures requires project-specific verification based on analysis. The first is that there are a considerable amount of recent innovations in each of the themes and current activities in each of these areas suggests that are many other novel products. processes and applications are in the pipeline. building physics. architecture. but this standard has encountered several difficulties particularly in meeting the expectations of individual stakeholders. This is not necessarily a problem for those practices that have a track record of structural glass design and established internal methodologies for design assisted by testing but it is more challenging for designers who have little or no experience of glass design. In contrast there are tough European regulations for the thermal performance of glass driven by the European Energy Performance Directive3 and the national standards that evolved from this directive. In doing so the paper provides a macroscopic view of the current trends rather than a narrow detailed account of a single engineering problem. There is a general consensus that there is a need to develop a unified international standard on glass. The second observation is that these innovations often require a truly multi-disciplinary effort spanning across structural engineering. Regulations are less onerous outside the European Union although they are increasing rapidly in North America. of for example the design strength of glass. but it should rather provide harmonised fundamental properties and design methodologies while supporting the alternative route of design assisted by prototype testing. It is however vital that any such standard does not become too restrictive. There is little doubt that the recent and future innovations in glass engineering will improve the performance and will continue to extend the domain of what is possible. The absence of officially agreed values. This paper identified five main themes which are attracting much attention in the glass engineering community and maps out the recent innovations and the future opportunities in each of these areas. The five themes identified in this paper are quite diverse. The lack of complete and harmonised standards also creates some difficulties for experienced glass designers who often have to design very similar glass structures in different locations. but its effect was less than expected largely due to technological advances in high performance glazing. There has been ongoing activity in this area for the last ten years that has culminated in a draft standard for glass others. The challenge for design engineers and architects is to select and adopt these technologies not as fashionable add-ons. but 13 . The European Commission is yet to approve this proposal and is currently seeking industry feedback. places unnecessary indemnity risks on designers and manufactures as their designs and products are not backed up by national or international standards. there is a lack of comprehensive standards for glass manufacture and offline processes such as laminating and heat strengthening which leads to considerable variations in quality control. Conclusion Recent developments in societal needs and technology are creating unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the use of glass in buildings ranging from complex geometry to occupant safety and lightness / transparency to energy efficient in buildings. prototype testing and previous experience (figures 9. 11 12 and 14). The lack of internationally agreed standards may cause trade barriers and reduced international activity. manufacturing and installation. materials science.

CEN. International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers. Seele Sedak Will Stevens. 10. Pilkington NSG James O’Callaghan. 6. Eckersley O’Callaghan Structural Engineers Hanno Sastre. Interpane 14 . RFR Markus Feldmann and Mascha Baitinger. European Directive 2002/91/EC . Building Regulations Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Structural Engineering document no. December an early design stage when decisions have the largest impact on the final design thereby leading to optimised performance-based buildings. Zarnic R et al. 2006. The Institution of Structural Engineers. RWTH Aachen Tim MacFarlane. Dec 2002. 2007.. and Overend M. Acknolwedgements Throughout the various stages of writing this report it became increasingly evident that face-to-face meetings and personal visits to manufacturers and construction sites were indispensable. The paper is largely based on the invaluable insight of leading experts in the glass design and glass manufacturing community. 4. 2008. References 1.London.: Structural use of glass.Energy performance of buildings.: Purpose and justification for new design standards regarding the use of glass products in civil engineering works. In particular I would like to thank the following people who generously agreed to be interviewed for this paper and who provided material for this report: Henry Bardsley and Nicolo Baldassini. 2007. 5. 2. IStructE. Official Journal of the European Communities. 3.: Structural use of glass in buildings. I am therefore grateful to the Institution of Structural Engineers Educational Trust for supporting this work through the Pai Lin Li Travel Award. Haldimann. Ramboll Henk Wassink.. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. Dewhusrt Macfarlane and Partners Tim Morgan and Phil Savage. Luible. M. Steel construction Institute. prEN 13474-1: Glass in building – Design of glass panes – Part 1: General basis of design. A.