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

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

seele’s wealth of engineering knowledge is almost invisible in the company’s structural glass designs. 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.

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.

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.

  • The noble patterned structural glass façade on the John Lewis department store in Leicester, UK, consists of 3,000 individually printed glass panes, made by seele.

    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.

  • Since the start of the close collaboration in all-glass architecture with Apple in 2001, seele has realized many different kinds of all-glass constructions on already over 50 Apple Stores.

    The close collaboration with Apple began in 2001. More than 50 Apple stores have been designed and built by seele. In addition, seele has been working on the Apple Campus 2 project since 2012.

  • seele reduced the load-bearing structure of its curved insulating glass at Aria Hotel in Budapest to a minimum, thanks to seele’s structural glass proficiency.

    Aria Hotel, Budapest: The structural glass proficiency of seele reduced the load-bearing structure to a minimum and resulted in maximum transparency by using five 8.13m long insulating glass units in which the curved form is fixed by the interlayer.

  • Maximilianmuseum in Augsburg: All in all 527 glass panes of seele span over the inner courtyard of the steel glass construction with a minimum of solid members.

    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.

  • seele realized an innovative all-glass bridge consisting of a glass deck and two curved glass parapets in laminated safety glass with a curved form

    An all-glass bridge consisting of a glass deck (2.0m x 7.0m) and two curved glass parapets (1.2m x 7.0m measured along circular arc) in laminated safety glass (curved form fixed by interlayer). Joining the three pieces of glass together resulted in a 3D object with curved surfaces.

  • seele developed and installed glass stairs, balustrades and bridges for the all-glass architecture of the Apple high-profile store in Nagoya, Japan.

    seele develops and builds glass stairs, balustrades and bridges. From construction details to installation, everything comes from one supplier – worldwide, such as the Apple high-profile store, Nagoya, Japan, shown here.

  • Apple Store in Glasgow: seele’s glass spiral stair is suspended from the ceiling, using stainless steel ties, which gives the structural glass construction an incomparable lightness.

    Apple retail store, Glasgow: The 12mm thick stainless steel ties are connected to the curving glass stair strings via metal fittings and give this suspended spiral stair an incomparable lightness.

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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.

  • seele’s metal fittings are laminated between the individual glass plies and join the glass outer envelope to the glass fins of an all-glass façade, for instance.

    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.

  • seele’s glass stairs, with a non-slip surface and four-ply laminated glass treads, are the very heart of every structural glass architecture.

    Glass stairs are the very heart of every Apple store: Semi-transparent structural glass treads with a non-slip, etched surface are suspended on fittings between the central cylinder and the outer glass stair string. All Apple stores use the same four-ply laminated glass treads.

  • Every single tread of seele’s glass stairs is connected to the all-glass construction by using metal fittings and thin stainless steel ties.

    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: seele uses a FE-model for calculating the stresses in the glass of the structural glass constructions.

    Connection between glass tread and glass string: FE model for calculating the stresses in the glass.

  • Connection between glass tread and glass string: seele verifies the strength of the fitting on the all-glass stairs by using its FE-model.

    Connection between glass tread and glass string: verifying the strength of the fitting.

  • Connection between glass tread and glass string: seele conducts an experimental testing of load-carrying capacity and validation of the numerical models of the structural glass constructions.

    Connection between glass tread and glass string: experimental testing of load-carrying capacity and validation of the numerical models.

  • seele verifies the load-bearing and residual load-bearing capacities of an L-shaped glass beam of a structural glass construction by means of a FE model.

    Verifying the load-bearing and residual load-bearing capacities of an L-shaped glass beam by means of FE model and testing.

  • seele packages a 15m long glass fin securely for the installation on an all-glass construction in Dubai.

    Packaging a 15m long glass fin for a project in Dubai.

  • seele guarantees a safe transport of all structural glass constructions due to proper labelling, robust materials and careful packaging.

    Careful packaging and proper labelling ensure safe transport.

  • The loading and shipping of seele’s glass panes is recorded and supervised exactly by measuring sensitivity to impact.

    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 glass panes had to be lifted off the delivery vehicle over five storeys and then lowered down into the narrow inner courtyard to the all-glass construction by seele.

    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.

  • Aria Hotel, Budapest: seele ensured that the radius of the bent insulating glass was not altered by the installation on the glass architecture or the lifting gear attachment points.

    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.

  • Aria Hotel, Budapest: seele plans the installation of the structural glass construction meticulously from loading the vehicle at the production plant to selecting the construction equipment.

    From loading the vehicle at the production plant to selecting the construction equipment, the entire operation was planned meticulously.

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