Prototype for thin flexible glass pavilion showcased
8 October 2019
Eckersley O’Callaghan has highlighted the potentially revolutionary new use of thin, flexible glass in architecture, by building a prototype domed pavilion for the innovative material at the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) 2019 conference in Spain.
The prototype pavilion, which has been initially built in 1.5mm thick plywood, was designed and built by Project Engineer Sam Gregson and aims to show how the glass could be used to build new innovative light structures in both weight and appearance.
The glass, final state version of the structure will be built for the Glasstec conference in Dusseldorf in October next year.
The design for the new pavilion will use curved thin transparent glass akin to the form of soap bubbles. Connections between the panels will be detailed to maximise transparency by using translucent 3D printed parts bonded with a clear UV-cure resin.
The form of pavilion started with a regular icosahedron (a polyhedron with 20 identical equilateral triangular faces) which was then optimised to produce a geodesic dome structure.
This process ensured that the panels have the same curved form, simplifying the bending process. Of the 308 panels in the pavilion, there are seven main panel shapes which streamlining its assembly and on-site logistics.
The curvature of the panels provides stiffness through form increasing structural efficiency and decreasing weight.
The 0.5mm thick ‘Falcon glass’, which will be laminated to produce 1mm thick sheet in the final version, has been manufactured by specialist glass fabricator AGC and is flexible, strong, lightweight and high quality.
Unlike the more typical soda-lime glass, the Falcon glass has been formulated with a high sodium content making it better suited to chemical strengthening. This recent technological advancement has proven valuable in industries such as portable devices and television technology.
This pavilion begins to reflect on the potential use of thin glass in architecture.