Modular safe glass beam system: experiments and design aspects

Maximising transparency in contemporary architecture has led to the development of load-carrying glass elements. Being most-widely used, beams and columns have extensively been the focus of investigation in the world of structural glass in the last decades. Structurally safe, hybrid concepts have been developed which are able to maintain their load-carrying capacity after initial glass fracture has occurred. A successful concept is the reinforced glass beam, in which minimal amounts of reinforcement are added to the beam section to provide post-fracture capacity and ductility. During a Ph.D. project at Ghent University, the application of this concept for large-scale multi-span supporting beam systems has been experimentally, numerically and analytically investigated. Regarding structural safety, these investigations pointed out that reinforced glass beam systems significantly exhibit stress redistribution and membrane action, which can lead to highly economical and material-efficient designs. Despite the developments achieved regarding the production of large-scale glass elements, logistic and on-site manoeuvrability problems imply the need for a modular, butt connected, glass beam system. An innovative connection methodology has been developed which maximises transparency, beam continuity while maintaining structural safety and system action. In this paper, the modular beam system, along with performed experiments and design considerations is presented.

Kenny Martens

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