Monday, May 12, 2008

structural glazing

structural glazing, an article published in the daily paper,''financial chronicle ''dated ,may 12 2008

Very trendy, but HOW PRACTICAL?


D OING UP buildings with glass and aluminium panels, known as structural glazing in the construction industry, may heighten the aesthetics of houses but the practice is not suitable in view of the climatic conditions of the country, say experts.
Exterior decoration with the help of glass and aluminium, which became popular in the west with a boom in the construction industry during 1950s, made its appearance on the Indian realty landscape only during late 90s.
“The greatest cause of worry about structural glazing is the tropical climate of our country, especially the extreme summers,” said M Murali, chief architect of city-based Murali Architects.
“In the western countries, they want to absorb as much heat and light as possible. In our hot climes, we would need at least double the energy to cool the interiors”, he said.
Though there are various types of glasses available in the market which let the light in and keep the heat out, a column of heat will always hang around the building and will raise the atmospheric temperature more than a traditional structure will do.
Most builders now go for fixed glass, as having open glass windows in about three times costlier. But this keeps people trapped inside a perennially artificial environment, dependent on air-conditioners.
Also, excessive heat makes the resin melt and ooze out to the surface, causing ugly patches. “Many a times, it is quite difficult to remove these patches,” Murali said.
“I also have serious apprehensions about how the heat would affect the coating on the glass and aluminium panels. Moreover, once damaged during riots or natural disasters, removing the entire panel and replacing it with a panel of the same texture, colour and finish will be expensive and difficult,” he said.
According to Manish Chandra, managing director of Chennai-based Gazel Architecture, the Rs 2,000crore industry has been growing at a rate of 200 per cent for the last 3-4 years.
“But, structural glazing is still a young concept in India and we will have to see how the heat affects the glass and aluminium panels,” said Chandra. With professional life taking a precedence over thing else, people have a paucity of time and getting their dream houses done up with glass and aluminium panels saves time.
“In today’s fast-paced world, fixing pre-fabricated aluminium and glass panels to the building framework consumes at least 50 per cent less time and lesser man-days, compared to a conventional structure,” he said.
Different shades of aluminium panels are available in the range of Rs 350–Rs 600 per sq ft. Also, based on the quality, glass panels cost between Rs 120 and Rs 500 an sq ft.
At least 25 per cent of these materials are imported from countries like Germany, Japan, France, China and West Asia.
Global companies like Dow Corning and GE are the major producers of the glue, a silicon compound used to stick the aluminium panel and glass. “The most appealing aspect is the appearance. For multistoried commercial buildings, structural glazing has become a trendy and fashionable option and many old buildings are also opting for it to get a new look,” said Chandra.
For those willing to give their homes that jazzy look despite the inherent practical problems, architects have some tips.
Murali advocates placing huge canopies over the structures to avoid the sunrays falling directly on the exteriors. “These canopies would serve as big hats over the buildings.” Another way to keep the buildings cool is by having green terraces or ?? rooftop gardens.

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