Steel glass designs by seele: Unique façades, formidable complexity and transparent materials lead to a seemingly weightless steel glass architecture

seele steel glass designs: superlative, unique façades with formidable complexity and long spans

In the hands of international façade construction specialist seele, steel and glass are turned into seemingly weightless building envelopes. seele designs and builds plate and shell structures in single- or double-curvature structures such as glazed roofs and atria, and curving roofs with amorphous forms. Or gridshells, cable net façades and tubular structures in complex forms with multiple glass infill panels. Fascinating free-form surfaces and maximum transparency are the hallmarks of such façade construction solutions. And it is not only their looks that set standards. seele’s designs also take care of interior climate functions, e.g. with highly complex glazing, integral ventilation flaps, movable louvres to redirect the incoming light or movable photovoltaic panels. On request, seele can also integrate lighting, heating, fire detection systems, drainage installations and moving elements plus their drive mechanisms. 

Ideas for changing the world of architecture begin digital

Even the draft design phase can be called high-tech; steel glass designs are put together first as detailed, complex 3D models. The high level of engineering proficiency at seele serves to reduce the design radically to the minimum number of visible loadbearing members. Early stages of the design work involve combining forms, structural systems and materials to solve the client’s structural, architectural and aesthetic requirements in the best possible way. Parameterised data can be used to simulate scenarios and hence plan long spans without intervening columns.

  • Chadstone Shopping Centre in Chadstone near Melbourne. A steel-and-glass roof by se-austria.
  • Victoria Gate Arcades Skylight, glass cylinder made by se-austria
Chadstone Shopping Centre in Chadstone near Melbourne. A steel-and-glass roof by se-austria.
Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne, Australia: construction of an exceptional steel-and-glass roof with a total area of 7,080sqm and spans of up to 44m.
Victoria Gate Arcades Skylight, glass cylinder made by se-austria
The Skylight is a 16-sided glass cylinder 1.3m high and about 11m in diameter with a load-bearing framework of rectangular hollow sections.
King's Cross, London: This 9,000sqm self-supporting free-form shell structure by seele satisfies strict blast resistance criteria as well as structural requirements.
Westfield, London: The free-form shell structure “made by seele” forms giant waves. Virtually every triangle and node in the structure is unique.
Sowwah Square, Abu Dhabi: The 1,600sqm façade to the main entrance foyer is tensioned around the corners and one of the world’s largest cable net façades. It is designed for wind-induced deflections of ±1.10m, with tension forces of up to 800kN in the cables.

seele’s power of innovation lets spectacular steel glass designs float

Every seele steel-and-glass design is as unique as its underlying concept. Pioneering solutions are usually the outcome, e.g. the Cutty Sark conservation project. In that project the company optimised the design and appearance of the toggle system so that the glass fixings could be concealed in the joints in the cavity between the panes using the “sefix” system. Other examples of solutions created by seele are pretensioned screw connections concealed in framing members and screw connections that, compared with welding, permit a high degree of prefabrication plus safe and fast erection.

Bent glass

Bending glass is one of the company’s pre-eminent skills. One cold bending technique involves forcing the glass into a curved shape over a rigid framework and then fixing it in this position with clamping bars. This increases the load-carrying capacity, and distributed loads such as wind and snow are primarily carried via membrane forces, less via bending. Consequently, the thickness of the panes can be reduced – and the budget, too. When that method reaches its limits, seele switches to hot bending and cold bending by lamination. Hot bending involves bending the heated glass to the desired form and then cooling it so that it retains the curved shape. In cold bending by lamination, the laminating film placed between two panes of glass holds the glass in the desired curved form.

Glazed concourse, Strasbourg railway station: Various components make up the glazing: 6mm thermally toughened low-iron glass with double and overlapping screen printing in black and white, interlayer with integral sunshading film, 6mm thermally toughened glass with low E-coating and cold-bent glass (lamination method).
Westfield, London: A wave of innovation rolls over the roof of this shopping centre...
...High degree of prefabrication for fast construction: seele supplied the roof structure ready for installation. The frame members were fabricated with a length tolerance of 0.20mm – a figure that is normally reserved for mechanical engineering...
...Complex nodes designed with 3D software for stability and economy...