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Don't glaze over the Working Details

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I was astonished and concerned to read the letter 'Improvements of Working Details' (AJ 12.04.01). Constructive criticism is always welcome, but the suggestion that this small extension will inevitably leak is possibly phrased in such a way as to avoid being actionable, but it is clearly foolish and uninformed. The fact that the author hides behind anonymity demonstrates cowardice as well as technical ignorance.

I have been designing cladding systems for 30 years and have worked as a consultant to some of the most famous architectural firms in the country, and have always written my own specifications.

My 20 years of studying glass resulted in my book Glass in Architecture, and I have watched the relevant technologies develop over decades. Glass does not leak, and the use of silicone sealants is now decades old. In the right circumstances, I would much rather provide a client with a glass roof jointed with silicone than with most other forms of roofing.

The system at Kelbrook House followed a testing precedent at our house in Devon with the same contractor, and the careful detailing of junctions enabled the client to write to us to the effect that 'the house has been a delight over Christmas . . . and tested to the full . . . by the weather'. The schedule of defects was astonishingly brief. I would offer to write to the author giving year-on-year news of the effectiveness of the detailing.

I believe that students and practitioners alike can study the 'Working Details' series in the sure knowledge that they are considered by the AJ with due seriousness before publication.

Michael Wiggington, The Designers Collaborative

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