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Inaugural AJ Spec Live focuses on glass, granite and fibre cement cladding

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Glass specification was the main focus of AJ Spec Live, the first in a new series of events to complement the monthly themes of AJ Specification

The chair of Thursday’s debate was Paul Finch who noted that in the years following the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001, many thought glass cladding would fall out of favour, but that recent years had shown that glass specification was more popular than ever with architects. 

Damian Rogan, façade group leader of Eckersley O’ Callaghan discussed the development of the material for Apple, where glass with load-bearing properties was used firstly to create transparent staircases, and later as the entire cladding system of a number of Apple stores, with the glass acting as pillars supporting the roof structure.

Giles Martin, director at Wilkinson Eyre, spoke of how the need to keep corporate clients happy meant that no overall colour was allowed to dominate the glass façade at their 10 Brock Street office building, while Paul Rogers, project director of Robin Partington & Partners, discussed the glass cladding for the practice’s Park House mixed-use development in London’s Oxford Street.

Commenting on the building’s notable double-curved envelope, Rogers said: ‘Building in curves is nothing to be scared of if you understand geometry. He explained that each glass panel was designed as though part of the surface of a giant sphere, with more than 90 per cent of panels bent on site.

Unlike other speakers who discussed the functional properties of materials, Bjorn Sanden, market development manager for DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions, said that ‘the performance of glass after breakage was also a consideration’ for specifiers. He indicated glass viewing platforms as an example of the need to consider how materials behaved after damage.

Solid panels were discussed by both Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu, associate, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Matti Lampila, associate, Piercy & Company. Bekiroglu discussed ZHA’s Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Baku, and the desire to create a cladding, roof and flooring system which ‘appeared as a homogenous skin from the outside’. Lampila said that the history of Clerkenwell including its diamond trade heritage were references in choosing the EQUITONE fibre cement and complementary window surrounds for Piercy & Company’s Baker’s Row project.

Finally, Stephen Hadley and Larissa Johnston, associate and project architect at Stanton Williams discussed the granite specification of King’s Cross Square, where joints between cladding panels was kept to no more than 4mm to emphasise a ‘solid look’ for the square.

The April edition of AJ Spec Live will take place on 30 April from 4-6pm at the NLA, London, and will focus on Kitchen & Bathroom specification

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