There are many advantages to large, landmark city-centre office buildings – they benefit from excellent transport links, close proximity to other businesses and a host of nearby support services.
However, a challenge for the designer of this kind of scheme is creating a working environment throughout the building that is well lit, free from excessive noise and efficiently climate controlled. When it comes to overcoming such challenges, the glazing used plays a major role.
One such building currently under construction is the new £80m Glasgow headquarters building of energy supplier ScottishPower. The building will be the largest single-occupier development the city has seen in the past 25 years and will accommodate up to 1,900 staff across more than 20,000 sq m of floor space.
Design-wise, the project is influenced by the industrial architecture used in power stations, and the building stands 14 storeys tall, surrounded by impressive glass and concrete facades. More than 5,000 sq m of glass will be used in order to allow natural light to flood the building from all sides, and advanced noise and solar-control properties will ensure the large area of glazing does not result in compromises when it comes to noise levels and temperatures inside the building.
The scale of the building and the large area of glass used means that excessive heating from the sun during warmer days could present a challenge for the building managers, and lead to high air conditioning costs.
To combat this, the double-glazed units that will be used throughout the building feature a solar control coating that reduces the amount of heat energy that is able to enter the building while maintaining high levels of transmission for visible light.
The Pilkington Suncool™ 66/33 product selected by the design team is a superior solar control product offering high visible light transmittance, reduced solar transmittance and excellent low-emissivity all in one product. This will allow the interior spaces to be brightly lit by sunlight, without the excessive heating effect.
The site of the building, close to the M8 motorway and Charing Cross station, means that noise levels are higher than in many other parts of the city, so minimising sound levels inside the building was a priority for the designers.
For the lower floors of the building, Pilkington Optiphon™ has been specified, which will deliver a significant noise reduction of 45 dB. The sound insulation is achieved by replacing one of the panes of glass in the double-glazed units with a laminated pane made up of two sheets of glass sandwiching a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer with an enhanced acoustic performance.
The noise reduction characteristics of the glass have been specially engineered to adapt the noise reduction towards the frequencies of most concern in the urban environment, such as road traffic, which is largely in the low and mid-frequency range.
Tough and beautiful
Laminated glass will also be used higher up in the building, not for its noise-attenuating properties, but for safety. Building Regulations demand that panes of glass of the size used in this project, and positioned directly above streets, must have a high level of resistance to breaking and that, if they do break, shards of glass will not fall onto the pavements below.
This will be achieved by incorporating laminated panes using Pilkington Optilam™ into the double glazed units.
Michael Metcalfe, commercial sales manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, said: “Glazing plays a crucial role in creating effective working environments in the city centre. The need to make the most of the high-cost space means buildings tend to be tall and high-density, creating climate control challenges, while the high levels of noise in city streets can make creating an environment conducive to focused work more difficult.
“The glazing we are delivering to the new ScottishPower headquarters is a strong example of how well-specified glazing can help overcome both of these potential issues to deliver city-centre spaces that meet the needs of the workforce.”