Glass Structures and Buildings

Glass Structures and Buildings discussed by Toughglaze UK

The use of glass is now dominating the architectural world and designers as well as architects are using toughened glass in wonderous and creative ways to make their buildings stand out from the rest, inside and out.

Here are what we think are the 5 must-see glass buildings in the world and believe us, you will be amazed at how glass has been used for creating stunning and architectural firsts.

30 St Mary Axe in London 

Glass Structures and Buildings Gherkin

So let’s start in our capital London, looking at the St Mary Axe, also known as ‘The Gherkin’ because of its obvious shape. It received the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize in 2004 after its construction was finished in 2003. It is one of the tallest and stand-out architectural structures in London’s skyline, with over 41 floors. The majority of the building is covered with thick glass panels to create natural light and warmth inside and out. The glass panels result in the building using much less energy compared to others of its size, making it environmentally friendly as well as stunning to look at.

The revolutionary building was designed by Norman Foster and provides 46,400 square metres of office space, as well as including an arcade of shops and cafés which are accessed from a piazza. At the summit of the building is a club room that offers amazing 360-degree panoramic views of the capital. The tower’s diagonally braced structure allows column-free floor space and the fully glazed facade opens up the building to allow natural light and spectacular views. The building distributes fresh air which is drawn in through opening panels in the outer layer, these are known as the ‘lungs’ of the building. This system reduces the reliance on air conditioning and as well as other sustainable technical aspects it means it only uses half the energy consumed by a conventionally air-conditioned office tower.

National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing

National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing

This is one of the most amazing architectural design and builds in the modern world today. Also known as National Grand Theatre this is a multi-purpose glass building which was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. The building houses an opera house, concert hall and theatre hall which can house more than 5000 guests at one time.

The exterior of the theatre is made from a titanium-accented glass dome and is sometimes called ‘The Giant Egg’ by the locals due to its shape and the image of it looking like an egg floating on water. It was designed to be an iconic feature, something that would be immediately recognisable and this is definitely one of the design objectives that have been delivered.

The dome measures 212 by 144 meters and is 46 meters high. The entrance and hallway take its guests underneath the lake which makes it an exciting and breath-taking entry. The titanium shell is broken by a glass curtain in the north-south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom.

The planned cost of the theatre was 2.688 billion (CNY), however, when the construction was completed, the total cost came to more than 3.2 billion (CNY) (£3,618,741,868)

The builds costs increase due to a delay following re-evaluation after an airport terminal building collapsed in Paris. When the cost is averaged out, each seat in the theatre is worth a massive half a million CNY. The Chinese government say that the theatre is not a for-profit venture.

Louvre Pyramid in Paris

Louvre Pyramid Paris

The Louvre Pyramid is one we all know and have either visited or seen photos of. It was opened in 1989 and it marked a turning point in the history of the Louvre Museum which occupies the former royal palace. A Chinese-American architect Leoh Ming Pei designed and built the pyramid and Parisians were scandalized when the design was first unveiled, however, it has now become an unmissable monument of Parisian architecture. The structure is made of metal, as well as 603 diamonds and 70 triangles of plastic glass as the outer layer. Pei was adamant he wanted the glass to be clear so when you looked through it the glass wouldn’t alter your perception of the colour and images of the existing buildings. At this time, the glass used for constructing buildings had a greenish tint so finding the perfectly clear glass which would work with the design was difficult.

Underneath the Louvre Pyramid is a welcome hall, the ticket office, museum boutiques, restaurants, a post office and the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre all of which keep visitors and tourists busy.

ToughGlaze UK

ToughGlaze was established in 1993 and has grown over the years to become a leader in innovation for advanced glass products with a developed factory allowing customers the benefit of total confidence as all processes are all done under one roof.

We have heavily invested in our state-of-the-art production equipment and facilities and constantly improve the efficiency of our production methods. Our focus is on customer service and supplying 100% quality. We have recently achieved the transition to ISO 9001.2015 accreditation and maintain all BS EN requirements with Kite Mark approval for all our products. Working together we strive to ensure customer satisfaction with a reliability of supply and product reassurance meeting the required specification and quality standards.

Toughglaze manufacture and supply laminated and toughened glass to major developments all over the UK, working with the architects and designers to ensure the glass we supply meets their requirements and quality standards. Here are just 2 of the major projects we have been involved with:

The Glass Mill Leisure Centre in London SE13

Glass Mill Leisure Centre
Image courtesy of Flickr

The Glass Mill was opened in 2013 and includes an 8 lane 25m competition pool, a teaching/learner pool, spectator seating, mobile floors for both pools and disabled lift with full access to the main pool. It also provides fitness and health suites, studios and associated changing rooms.

The exterior façade is clad in 1400 individual glass panels that we developed in conjunction with local artist Phil Coy.

In February 2014 The Glass Mill was awarded the Best Built Project – Community Scale Scheme in the London Planning Awards 2013/14. It was also listed as one of the four best buildings completed in London in 2013/2014.

ToughGlaze worked closely with Phil Coy to ensure that the production quality, project management and delivery enabled him to realise his vision. The project was 1,600m² and we manufactured over 20 different colour panels, made up of 4mm and 6mm glass with Vanceva interlayers. These allowed a configuration of 9 different coloured interlayers to be used to create the whole spectrum of colours. We also provided 21.5mm toughened laminate glass with drilled holes to create the entrance canopy. The design and build of The Glass Mill is an architecture great and we are proud of the partnership we developed and the workmanship during the build as well as the ionic and truly different results.

Heathrow Terminal 2 Transformation

Heathrow Terminal 2
Image courtesy of

The old T2, originally extended and remodelled by Pascall+Watson, was demolished to give way to the new modern, contemporary facility in the heart of the central terminal area.

Pascall+Watson’s site-based team created a series of spectacular transitional and dwell spaces that flow seamlessly together and enable intuitive passenger wayfinding. The design utilises many of the architectural elements and systems developed by Pascall+Watson across the rest of the campus, most notably at Heathrow Airport T5, to create the airport’s unique identity. The 200,000m² five storey terminal building provides 12 contact stands as well as coaching gate facilities to cater for around 20 million passengers annually.

Critical to the success of the T2A design are its sustainability credentials. Key features include active solar control measures, boreholes and specialist fittings to reduce water consumption, photovoltaic panels, renewable energy sources and sophisticated automatic lighting controls. All of these considerations contribute to the building achieving a 40% reduction in its CO2 emissions.

ToughGlaze worked with 2 subcontractors and directly with the main contractor to project manage over 7,000m² of 10mm clear toughened and 13.5mm, 15.5mm and 17.5mm toughened laminate for a large proportion of the wall cladding and structural glazing. All the panels supplied were heat soaked to negate the potential of glass failure through inclusions, most notably Nickel Sulphide. An array of finishes were also employed from Silk-screening to the use of white and black Vanceva interlayer’s, with the highest honour of manufacturing the commemorative laminate panels, to mark the opening by HRH Queen Elizabeth 2, was bestowed upon ToughGlaze. The project was a massive 7,000m²

If you would like to talk to us about Laminated, Toughened or any type of Glass for a project, however big or small then give us a call on +44 (0) 20 8838 4400 and one of our glass experts will be happy to help. To find out more about the projects and developments we have been involved with and manufactured and supplied glass for click here.