MasterBuild Africa

Curtain Walls and Structural Glazing System

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Featured Image Credit: Sapa Building System

A curtain wall system is an outer covering of a building with non-structural outer walls, and it is used to keep the weather out and the occupants in. It can be made of lightweight materials to reduce the cost of construction, since it is just a facade, and does not in any way bear any structural load from the building, other than its own load. An advantage of using glass as the curtail wall is natural lighting.

Curtain walls are designed to transfer lateral wind loads in it to the main building through connections at floors or columns of the building. It mainly functions to absorb sway induced by wind and seismic forces acting on the building, withstand wind loads, resist air and water infiltration, and support its own dead weigh.

Curtain walls are typically designed with extruded aluminum or steel frames, typically infused with glass for the advantage of daylighting and for aesthetic effects.

However, the effects of light on visual comfort as well as solar heat gain in a building are more difficult to control when using large amounts of glass infill.

Other common infills include: stone veneer, metal panels, louvres, and operable windows or vents.

Unlike storefront systems, Curtain walls are designed to span multiple floors, taking into consideration design requirements such as: thermal expansion and contraction; building sway and movement; water diversion; and thermal efficiency for cost-effective heating, cooling, and lighting in the building.

Structural Glazing Systems:

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Simple structural glazing systems are types of curtain wall systems consisting of glass bonded or anchored back to a structure without the use of continuously gasketed aluminum pressure plates or caps.

The glass can be comprised of monolithic, laminated, dual-glazed or even triple-glazed insulating glass units (IGUs). The back-up structure may use horizontal and/or vertical aluminum mullions or be a glass mullion, steel blade, cable or stainless steel rod. The interior and exterior may use extruded silicone/EPDM gaskets, or a wet sealed silicone depending on the system. This system creates a completely clean, flush exterior appearance while the interior members have many different options depending on design and budget.

Advantages of structural glazing systems include the fact that structurally glazed systems create a greater transparency than traditional captured systems, as there are less visual interruptions due to the lack of metal on the exterior (and potentially the interior), creating a seamless, continuous glass look. Traditional captured curtain wall systems have pressure plates and caps that can conduct large amounts of heat in or out of the façade depending on the season. Since there is little to no exposed exterior metal, there is also less thermal bridging with structural glazing, saving on energy consumption costs.

Some of the different types of structural glazing systems in the market include:

• Stick-built structural glazing system
• Unitized structural glazing systemPoint supported glass systems and
• Vertical cable tension walls (sometimes also known as cable nets)

Source – Wikipedia and WW & W glass

Related Companies:

ACE Facades Ltd.


Alutech Glass Limited


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