Testing for building envelopes at seele's headquarters in Germany.

putting excellent façade competence to the test

The entire seele group of companies uses the test and inspection centre in Gersthofen, Germany, which offers facilities for trying out new façade solutions. Here, load and performance tests are carried out under realistic conditions. Engineering services and façade structures are tested according to international guidelines as well as test scenarios developed in-house using true-to-scale mock-up buildings. Individual approval is required for almost all building envelopes. Extensive tests are usually necessary for the realisation of complex building envelopes. Particularly in the case of special solutions with sophisticated geometries, it is essential to test the impact of extreme thermal cycling loads on critical design details in accordance with the applicable standards. In the case of international projects, relevant tests are carried out on full-scale mock-ups under extreme loads.

Testing spectrum

seele can test all constructions in accordance with international guidelines. Conventional load and performance tests with regard to protection from rain, wind, solar and climate conditions, e.g. thermal cycling tests or hurricane resistance tests, are conducted using full-scale visual mock-ups.

Full-scale mock-ups

At the test site in Gersthofen, full-scale mock-ups are built under realistic conditions to verify all quality requirements with regard to design and performance. The mock-up on the left shows a vertically halved, 3m long section of the TEC Bridge that enabled both the design and assembly to be tested. 

Testing of special assembly equipment

For the 5 Broadgate project, a sophisticated logistics concept was designed for the stainless steel panels measuring up to 6m x 1.5m. The façade elements were largely prefabricated, delivered just-in-time to the construction site, transported directly into the building and assembled from the inside. Special tools were developed and the façade elements constructed accordingly.

Testing of special technology

Every special façade technology must be tested. For example, at seele's test site a new glass tube façade with CCF technology was tested. The tubes are self-supporting and designed for high wind loads. Another highlight of the façade is the special LED technology, which also features in the mock-up.

Hurricane tests

Depending on local conditions, seele also conducts specific tests, such as those carried out for a museum in Miami, USA. Hurricane tests simulated the impact of flying fragments during stormy conditions. After firing, the test specimen had to withstand up to 9,000 further cycles of over- and underpressure. A pressure-tight chamber and an automated process simulated the changing wind loads.

Thermal cycling tests

The thermal cycling test procedures subject the structures to extreme temperature stresses. The procedure used differs depending on country-specific regulations. For a Canadian project, for example, seele applied the American regulations. This involved testing the mock-up by means of convection heating and cooling of the outside air around the test specimen. Depending on the mock-up, extreme temperatures of between + 82°C and -35°C are tested.

Lighting tests

The roof of the Institute of Peace in Washington, USA, needed to appear translucent and homogeneous, so that a smooth, dome-shaped structure would be created when viewed from the outside. It was also important for the structure to be in harmony with the surrounding monuments. An experimental matrix took both glass coatings and interlayers into account. The different lighting effects were evaluated on the mock-up.

Pendulum impact test

Quality testing through a pendulum impact test on a façade element with SCF technology. Twin tyres are used at prescribed drop heights to verify the fall protection offered by laminated safety glass in the relevant installation.