Transparency in glass connections – a case study
The transparency of glass structures is fascinating and daunting at the same time. The emotional distrust towards a transparent material opposes the rational knowledge that the material would be sufficiently strong to form a structure.
Recently, glass has increasingly been used as a structural component. However, its inherent brittleness still requires opaque metal connections to transfer loads, which commonly are stainless steel or titanium. These connections define contemporary glass architecture – firstly, because they are immediately apparent in a transparent structure and, secondly, as they are part of the engineering design language. However, designers and architects are still aiming to increase the transparency of building envelopes and structures, hence there is a strong demand to reduce the visibility of structural connections in glass.
In particular, glass staircases have gained popularity in recent years, forming transparent structural features within buildings. Due to the loads they have to carry, coupled with safety regulations, these structures traditionally consist of many layers of glass, laminated into thick packages and then connected with opaque metal fittings.
This paper discusses a novel approach to transparent connections for treads on a case study project- not a staircase but a glass slide with glass treads, bonded to the curved glass stringer with a transparent structural silicone creating a minimal and entirely transparent glass structure.