Full-height glazing creates bright and airy spaces and sweeping vistas for occupants. However, replacing bricks and mortar with glass can make the interior climate more difficult to control – unless the right specification of glass is used.
This was the challenge that faced the designers of a new headquarters building for Kent-based contract furniture supplier Pineapple Contracts.
The building was to contain office space for 45 employees, a showroom for the company’s products and a 40,000 sq ft distribution centre.
For the four-storey offices and showroom section of the building, which would be customer-facing and also accommodate office staff, architect Richard Diebelius of Mitchell Design & Construct wanted a wall of glazing across the full height and width of the front of the building.
In order to create a double-height atrium space that was glazed on all three sides, this full-height glazing also extended back across a quarter of both sides of the building.
With glazing forming such a large part of the headquarters’ external envelope, it was essential that the space did not become a greenhouse – tending to overheat in the summer and get cold during the winter.
To achieve this, 4,500 sq ft of advanced double glazed units were specified, incorporating a combination of technologies that limit the heating effect of direct sunshine and also reduce radiation of heat away from the building.
For the inner pane, Pilkington Optitherm™ S1 Plus was used, a high performance low-emissivity glass that uses an advanced off-line coating to help units achieve overall U values as low as 1.0 W/m2K.
This was combined with an outer pane of Pilkington Eclipse Advantage™ Arctic Blue – a body-tinted glass featuring an on-line solar control coating that helps reflect much of the energy in the sun’s rays while remaining highly transparent to visible light.
Peter Maj, area sales manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, said: “The glazing in this building plays three key roles, providing the right aesthetics as well as solar control and thermal insulation.
“The first is the colour of the glass, which lends the building one if its signature design elements. Because the colour is created by a metal oxide added to the glass mixture before it was even melted together, it is not only on the surface but right through the glass, meaning it can’t be worn away over time.
“Kent is one of the sunniest counties in the UK and enjoys a lot of warm sunshine throughout the summer. The glass will help the building avoid expensive over-reliance on air conditioning when it becomes warmer in the summer months by helping to keep out heat, or solar gain, from the sun.
“On the flip side, it will also help to keep heating costs down in winter by reducing the amount of heat escaping from inside the building in the form of infrared radiation.”
Charles Hathorn, managing director at Pineapple Contracts said: “When Mitchells first showed us their proposed design with 100 per cent glass front four storeys high, we were gripped instantly.
“When we show customers our products, the setting in which they’re displayed is paramount. The showroom on the top floor of our new headquarters benefits from great panoramic views thanks to the full-height glazing, creating a great space for hosting viewings.
“The advanced Pilkington glass means it’s also easy to maintain a comfortable climate, whatever the weather is doing.”