“The tallest, heaviest sliding glass door of all”: a case study

Minimalist windows have explored the potential of structural glass to provide large sliding glass window-walls with extremely thin doorframes. Yet, today’s architectural demands, dictated by the aim for transparency and for spatial continuity between inside and outside, constantly push for better performances — more efficient and dynamic systems — and also for ever-larger full-height sizes — with glass panes often surpassing the Jumbo dimension of 19m2 and 6m-high. Large windowpane dimensions impose new technical challenges, requiring prior meticulous calculation and sometimes obliging appropriate machinery to be built for their installation. This paper focuses on this qualitative leap, with ever-increasing precision in manufacturing and assembly to ensure glass panels to be operated with lightness and provide ease of maintenance, despite their size and weight. This paper’s case study, an UK-based residential project, illustrates the challenges in terms of design and assembly of motorized 26m2 double glass panes (over 8m-high), weighting 3 tons. Combined with strict thermal performance requirements, this customized solution formed the prototype for a new series, specifically designed to meet Minergie-P and Passivhaus standards. It demonstrates the possibilities of combining dimension and performance to arrive to a new sliding system able to meet some of today’s most radical architectural demands.

Pedro Borges de Araújo

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