A Guide to Structural Frameless Glass Link

Are you looking to create an extra living space, add an annex, or are just looking to give your home a cozier atmosphere? Are you looking for a way to add a new extension to an old building as a conservatory, without compromising its visual appeal and property value?

Then glass links are the solution for you. They can give your home the much needed makeover without completely altering the existing nature of your home. Glass link is versatile and lends itself to both traditional and contemporary homes and buildings.

What is a glass link?

Glass link is the modern solution of linking rooms or buildings using glass. Whether you are connecting your home and garage or a new extension to an existing building, they are the perfect engineering solution. They are contemporary and elegant. It can be a glass wall or a glass walkway or linkway with a glass roof or skylight. The possibilities are endless. The addition of glass links can add instant beauty and value to your property.

Glass links are visually stunning and highly functional. They maximize the living area by inviting the outside in. they add a sense of space whether they are an extension to the exterior or connecting rooms on the interior. They help create energy efficient spaces by inviting ample daylight. The simplicity of glass, seamlessly combining structure in an unobtrusive fashion, is absolutely phenomenal. They are elegant with minimal detailing and little to no framework.

Benefits of Structural Frameless Glass Links

Elements such as structural frameless glass links come with various benefits and a wide range of uses. Some key benefits and uses are:

  1. Maximising Natural Light: The most obvious and primary benefit of installing a structural frameless glass links is the penetration of natural light into the interior spaces of the house. Glass links, bring the outdoors inside your house, flooding your house with daylight without greatly altering your existing house plans.
  2. Enhancing Visual Connectivity: By providing uninterrupted views of the surroundings, structural frameless glass links enhance the visual connectivity of a house creating a sense of openness and making the space appear larger and more inviting. 
  3. Improving Aesthetics: Structural frameless glass links do a great job of adding a sleek and contemporary aesthetic to residential projects, irrespective of their original styles. The minimal design of glass links, lends itself well to both traditional and contemporary architecture. 
  4. Improving Functionality and Usability of Space: Glass links improve the functionality of space by improving the circulation, connecting different spaces seamlessly and linking extended spaces like the out-house, guest-house, etc, to the main structure, without having to move out in the weather.  Glass links are also used to connect different levels of multi-storey homes, allowing for contemporary elements, while preserving the old.
  5. Enhancing Energy Efficiency: Glass links naturally reduce the reliance on artificial lighting by increasing the daylight, in turn reducing the carbon footprint of the house. Furthermore, using high-performance glazing like low-e coatings, insulated glazing, enhance the energy efficiency of a residence and also improve the indoor comfort.

Incorporating Glass Links in a Residential Project

Architects must consider a variety of factors before making a decision to design structural frameless glass links for a project. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Architectural Style and Context: The context of the project site is crucial to designing a frameless glass link. Factors including surrounding landscape and structures, site orientation play a great role in the success of the overall project with glass links. Evaluating contextual factors and architectural features such as material, design language will determine the design and detailing of the glass links for a project.
  2. Functional Requirements and Client Needs: It is crucial to identify the functional needs of the project, whether it requires additional daylight, better circulation of space, enhancing the connectivity between different parts of the building, building a connected extension to the house, are all significant details to factor in before starting the design process. Close collaboration with clients will help architects design the glass link that serves and supports the client’s functional needs.
  3. Structural Considerations: Involving structural engineers is a good idea at the early stage in the design process to evaluate the feasibility of using a glass link in the project. It is also essential to evaluate the live and dynamic loads, and therefore appropriately determine the glazing type, thickness, etc, to ensure durability, and safety.
  4. Building Codes and Regulations: Local building codes may affect the design and construction of the structural frameless glass links and it is crucial to be aware of local permitting requirements and ensure compliance with the safety standards.
  5. Environmental Factors: Structural frameless glass links need to be designed against adverse effects of climatic conditions including overheating, wind loads, solar glare, etc and studying the environmental factors will aid in designing better solutions.
  6. Budget and Cost Considerations: Architects must have a realistic understanding of incorporating structural frameless glass links before proposing the idea to their clients. Assessment of and budget constraints and cost involved in construction of glass links is important before starting to design the details.

Applications and Uses of Glass Links

  • As an extension between old to new: Structural glass link can seamlessly and elegantly create a fusion between an old building and the new extension. They are versatile and can blend with the nature of both the old and new structures. Glass links can highlight the features of both the traditional and modern settings.
  • As an extension between new to new: Frameless structural glass extensions can be perfect to link different sections of your house. Whether it is to connect your home to the garage or a lounge, glass links are perfect. They create a unique transition between settings.
  • As Habitable space: The amount of natural light that glass links allow into the room can make for a visually stunning space. By inviting the outside into your room, there is a sense of warmth and comfort and abundance in space. Made of glass, these rooms can be enjoyed year long, regardless of the weather.
  • As Glass Bridges: If required glass links can be designed as elevated transparent pathways connecting two buildings or spaces within the same building, incorporating a glass floor as per design needs. This adds a visually striking feature to the home. Ideal for multiple-storey homes that require connection between separate structures, such as the main house structure to the guesthouse or a studio.

Glass options for structural glass links

Single glazed glasses can be used for frameless links but they are not insulated and therefore, they are not energy efficient either. Double or triple glazed glasses are two or more glass panes separated by air or vacuum. These types of glazed glasses offer insulation and are thermally efficient. Structural glasses are weather and heat resistant. These glasses are engineered to withstand extreme weather conditions like strong winds and heavy rainfall.

You can also opt for additional lamination and coating. These glasses are strong and secure. They are impact and shock resistant. The innovations in design, improvements in glass processing and manufacturing technologies and the advancements in the installment procedures ensure that the glass links you choose are engineered to last. Structural glass links are highly durable and easy to maintain.

Opening elements for structural glass links

Structural glass links can include opening elements like windows and doors. There are frameless doors that can be included within the single glazed link structure for a completely frameless finish. You can also use framed doors that are weather sealed. But to integrate framed opening means additional framework and while it will still be aesthetically pleasing, it will no longer be just glass.

How much does a structural glass link cost?

To get the best in functionality and aesthetic value, it is important for architects to choose the highest quality of structural glass link for your project. However, it is important to know that you are well within your client’s budget while doing that. The cost of the structural frameless glass links may vary from one project to another, depending on various elements. Here are some factors that need to be taken into consideration when estimating the cost of incorporating glass links in your residential project:

  • Design: Cost of required professional services for architectural services, structural calculations, surveys, consultancy etc.  
  • Material: Cost of glass panels, glass beams and fins, fixing and insulation materials, etc. The cost may rise significantly when using oversized glass or any special requests.
  • Installation: Includes cost of labour (installers), delivery, hiring glass lifting equipment (crane and glazing robots), etc. 
  • Additional expenses: It is always important to factor in the additional expenses such as permit costs, insurance, other consultant site-visit, and a contingency fund for other unforeseen events.

For a residential project, the cost of a glass link can vary from £1000/m2 to £4000/m2 based on the factors outlined above. A glass link requiring oversized glass, or steel beam supports, or intended for commercial applications could come at higher cost. 

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