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STRUCTURAL GLASS BEAMS AND COLUMNS

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technical & practice

One of the largest structures ever to be built using glass beams and columns to support a glass roof and glass wall - no metal supports or connectors are used - is Broadfield House Glass Museum, at Kingswinford, West Midlands. It was designed by structural engineer Dew Macfarlane and Design Antenna. The building creates a new entrance and reception to a Grade II-listed building.

The pavilion is 11m long, 3.5m high and 5.5m wide; it is built against the rear wall and a projecting side wall of Broadfield House, and its gable end is of rendered blockwork. In principle the structure is relatively simple; 5.7m long x 300mm deep glass beams at 1100mm centres span from the rear brick wall to glass columns along the front facade. The beams and columns are made of three sheets of 10mm glass laminated together, making them 35mm thick. At the rear the beams rest on shoes fixed to the wall; at the front they were connected to the columns by cutting and splicing the laminated sheets to form mortice and tenon joints, which were bonded on site with resin laminate.

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