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Blog

FAÇADE LECTURE SERIES

Fiona Mckay

The first two lectures in the Façade Series were on terracotta (Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Nov 2013) and wood (Schindler Facades, Apr 2014). The latest two lectures - continuing the emphasis on different materials - have been on tensile membrane and glass structures.

All four lectures in the series have been generously hosted by our Sponsor Herman Miller at its Aldwych showrooms

The AIA UK Chapter would like to promote more technical lectures following on from the Façade series.  We would be interested in hearing your ideas on possible subjects.  

Tensile Fabric Architecture – 01 Dec 2014

The December Façade Series lecture stretched the concept of “façade” by including tensile fabric being used for what might more accurately be described as a building “roof” – a roof in the case of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery that has been literally stretched to become the primary building envelope.

The lecture came in two parts, with senior representatives of both Zaha Hadid Architects and Architen Landrell Associates - the specialist tensile structure designer and fabricator – discussing how their technical and creative collaboration brought about this unique building.

Jason Smith, Architen Landrell’s American Engineer and Business Development Manager, led off with an explanation of the elemental shapes of tensile structures and how these shapes could be transformed into architecture.   He then demonstrated various different building fabrics, emphasizing their benefits and practicalities.  The general introduction was followed by a detailed analysis of the fabrication and installation process of the Sackler Gallery itself.

Torsten Broeder, Zaha Hadid Architect’s Lead Architect, talked about the original design concepts of the Gallery – including different layouts and challenges - and his own experience working on this project.

As a follow up on the lecture, the Serpentine Sacklery Gallery hosted this year’s AIA Design Awards Gala on Tuesday, 28th April.


Glass as a Building Material – 10 Mar 2015

The latest lecture in the Façade Series - presented by Ralf Scheurer, Architect and International Sales Engineer for Sedak GmbH & Co (part of the Seele Group of Companies, Gersthofen, Germany) - was subtitled “New Developments in Processing. “ After a general overview of the historic development and capabilities of building glass, Ralf concentrated on how Sedak’s commitment to advancing glass technology has been pushing these capabilities to their limits.

Along the way, we learned about the critical glass technical issues and what the different processes – annealing, heat strengthening, tempering, etc.  - were able to achieve in terms of design issues such as bending, printing, coating, cutting, drilling, layering and dimensioning.

Laminated and insulated glass were also explained, as well as the all-important methods of testing, quality control and transportation to the sites.

Through Sedak’s extensive, international project portfolio, Ralf was able to illustrate how the different glass processes have led to innovative design applications – from full glass structures, stairs, balustrades and roofs to more unusual art installations, movie screens and undersea viewing galleries.  Many of the projects used to illustrate the design potential of glass can be found in London, including four of the examples below.

In particular, Sedak’s glass tempering furnace and can now process the highest quality glass in sizes up to 3.2m x 15m.  The effects of the larger sizes on visual impact were graphically shown with a comparison of the acclaimed 2006 Apple Glass Cube with an even more transparent 2011 version.

Author: Lorraine King

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