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Innovative structural glass designs by seele: New dimensions in glass architecture using structural glass for building envelopes, stairs and bridges with loadbearing capacities and transparency.

structural glass by seele: taking the load in architecture

Façade construction specialist seele develops innovative methods and design principles so that glass can be used in its purest form. Structural glass, i.e. all-glass, creations by seele are just as complex as they are minimalistic. The market and technology leader in the field of structural glass brings together experts from structural and other engineering disciplines, design, logistics and construction to redefine the boundaries of the feasible again and again.

Minimalist, maximum transparency, large glass formats, amazing attention to detail – those are the attributes of the building envelopes that seele creates for world-famous architects. You will look in vain for the fixings. It is the glass itself that carries heavy loads via shear-resistant interlayers. That opens up totally new possibilities for glass roofs and façades as well as glass balustrades, stairs and bridges in the interior.

  • Having the best connections was always a recipe for success

    Although seele’s wealth of engineering knowledge is also applied to its structural glass designs, it is almost impossible to detect with the naked eye. Minimalist metal fittings are either laminated between the individual glass plies or fixed in resin-grouted holes. The fittings join glass stair treads to glass stair strings or the glass outer envelope to the glass fins of a façade. Tailor-made fittings in stainless steel or titanium accommodate tolerances and transfer loads into the glass exactly as planned. They join panes along vertical joints to continuous glass fins, which, like glass beams as well, function as load-bearing members.

The future is made of glass

Structural glass is a key topic for innovations at seele. The company uses large-format bent or flat panes to create sophisticated structural glass designs – also for earthquake zones such as California and Japan. Advanced techniques and innovative solutions for details and connections give rise to new architectural options. The great skills and broad experience of seele’s experts can also be seen when using large insulating glass units and solar-control coatings. Good energy parameters will shape the future of structural glass architecture.

John Lewis department store, Leicester: The noble, patterned structural glass façade is made from 3,000 printed panes, every one of which is unique in terms of size or pattern.
Maximilianmuseum, Augsburg: a 37m long, 145m wide, structural glass design by seele. Some 527 panes of glass span over the historic inner courtyard with a minimum of solid members.
The close collaboration with Apple began in 2001. More than 70 Apple stores have been designed and built by seele. In addition, seele also worked on the Apple Park project.
seele develops and builds glass stairs, balustrades and bridges. From construction details to installation, everything comes from one supplier.
Apple retail store in San Francisco: 2 glass stairs each with 28 steps, 1 landing and 1 glass string.

One of seele’s domains: mastery of all aspects of structural glass

Intelligent planning and precise realisation are essential for developing the full potential of structural glass. seele, with its comprehensive skills in engineering, design, production, logistics and construction, knows how to handle this process like no other company.

  • seele builds full-size mock-ups to test structural glass designs, fittings, structural glazing adhesive joints and establish load-bearing and residual load-bearing capacities and provides all project services, including logistics and erection. Specially developed vacuum lifters and erection gear are available to handle large pane formats. The experienced seele erection crews work with maximum precision to ensure that large panes up to 48sqm in size are installed with millimetre accuracy.

    Sometimes it’s the distance to the site that presents the biggest challenge. That was 16,000km in the case of the Apple store in Sydney, where a street had to be completely closed for erection. The timetable for delivering and setting up the panes was therefore very tight and called for especially focused operations.

    Glass stairs by seele: rising to meet new levels of precision engineering

    Structural glass strings carry seele glass stairs. Fittings laminated between the individual glass plies join the treads to the strings. All steps can be easily replaced. seele’s spiral glass stair designs, suspended from the floor above or supported from the floor below via an inner cylinder, make use of chemically toughened glass.

Metal fittings are either laminated between the individual glass plies or fixed in resin-grouted holes. They join the glass outer envelope to the glass fins of a façade, for instance.
The glass treads are attached to the glass string by metal fittings and the stability of the stair is ensured by thin stainless steel ties.
Connection between glass tread and glass string: FE model for calculating the stresses in the glass.
Connection between glass tread and glass string: verifying the strength of the fitting.
Connection between glass tread and glass string: experimental testing of load-carrying capacity and validation of the numerical models.
Packaging a 15m long glass fin for a project in Dubai.
Careful packaging and proper labelling ensure safe transport.
Loading a 15m long glass pane onto a container ship. Transport of the pane is recorded exactly and fully by means of supervised shipping and measuring sensitivity to impact.
Aria Hotel, Budapest: The panes of glass had to be lifted off the delivery vehicle, parked in a narrow street, over five storeys and then lowered down into the narrow inner courtyard.
In doing so it was vital to ensure that the radius of the bent insulating glass was not altered by the operations or the lifting gear attachment points.
From loading the vehicle at the production plant to selecting the construction equipment, the entire operation was planned meticulously.