Exploring The Potential of Free Standing Glass Columns Assembled from Stacked Interlocking Cast Elements

This paper presents the research conducted on free standing glass columns assembled from stacked interlocking cast elements. Glass has a compression strength exceeding that of concrete, constituting the concept of a glass column unique, considering the transparent design opportunities. However, due to the brittle nature of glass, safety is hard to guarantee in glass columns and there are thus only few realized examples. On the basis of structural safety, this research explores the potential of an innovative type of column of increased transparency and structural redundancy. As a case study, the replacement of the two existing concrete columns in the Berlage lecture room in the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture is proposed. In specific, 54 cast glass units of maximum 10Kg mass each, are stacked on top of each other to form a 6m high column. To allow for an easy assembly and disassembly, an interlocking shape for dry-stacking is designed, with a clear PET interlayer in-between to prevent the generation of peak stresses. Emphasis is also given to the connection detailing. As a proof of concept, 9 components are kilncast and tested under compression. The results demonstrate the structural and aesthetic potential of the designed column.