Structural Glass Roofs


A structural glass roof is a type of roofing system constructed of glass panels and supporting structural elements allows daylight to penetrate into the interior spaces below and also creates bright and airy environments. Structural glass roofs are often used in places that lack natural light coming from windows and also to provide a modern and visually striking aesthetic.

The combination of natural light and aesthetically pleasing design makes glass roofs a powerful architectural feature for enhancing the interior of any property, regardless of its architectural style, whether it’s classic or contemporary.

Design and Aesthetic


  • A structural glass roof consists of glass panels, supporting elements such as glass beams and fixings components such as steel brackets.
  • Structural integrity: The design and construction of glass roofs should ensure they can withstand the different forces they will be subjected to, like wind, snow, and the weight of the glass.
  • Structural support: Depending on the glass roof length and span, the glass roofs require supporting structures. Structural glass beams are the most popular option for use as supporting elements. The glass beams are positioned  beneath the glass joints and provide structural support to these structural joints throughout their length. Other options  such as steel T sections, steel box, and timbers can be used to meet the structural support requirement.
  • Attaching glass roof to existing building: Depending on the building structures and glass roof to be designed, the glass units of the roof and beams can be attached to the supporting wall structures using different methods such as steel brackets or channel glazing. When attaching a glass roof into an existing building, frames and fixing details are intended to be hidden within the building finishes.

Opening Elements


  • Structural glass roofs are often designed to be fixed, creating a frameless appearance with glass-to-glass connections at each joint. Incorporating an opening element into a frameless glass roof is possible to allow ventilation, but it requires adding steel frames to support the opening, which diminishes the frameless look.
  • Opening vent can be operated manually or remotely. In cases where the glass roof is installed at a very extreme height, reaching a manual vent can be extremely hard and unsafe for operation. Opting for an electric roof vent would be the safest way for operation.

Glass Options


  • Glass options: Structural glass roofs can be constructed from single or insulated glass units. Double or triple glass units are used to maximise thermal efficiency.
  • Toughened and/or laminated glasses are commonly chosen in various thicknesses depending on safety and security requirements.
  • Low-iron glass: It is advisable to opt for low-iron glass for glass beams to reduce the greenish tint.
  • Solar glass: It helps minimise the amount of heat transferred from the sun to the interior.
  • Low-e coating is applied to glass units to increase the thermal performance for the glass roof.

Size Limitations


  • With the appropriate supporting elements, multiple structural glass units can be connected to create a large glass roof for any size opening, without limitations on size.

Safety & Security


  • The inner pane of the glass units in structural glass roofs must be laminated for safety purposes. This ensures that in the event of the glass roof breaking, the broken glass will remain in place and to fall down into the space below.
  • The outer pane of glass units is made of toughened glass to increase safety and minimise breakage.
  • Laminated glass is also being selected for additional security. When the glass is broken, it doesn’t fall apart, which delays and even prevents burglars from gaining entry through the glass roof.

Structural glass link, outside view


Applications

Glass roofs offer architectural flexibility, allowing for a wide range of design possibilities. They can be customized to fit various shapes, sizes, and styles, making them suitable for any residential and commercial building types and design preferences.

Various factors drive the use of structural glass roofs:

  • Natural Light: Glass roofs create a seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces, making internal space feel larger and allowing occupants to feel more connected to nature.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Glass roofs provide a modern and visually striking aesthetic that enhance the overall appearance of a building, making it more attractive and appealing.
  • Outdoor Connection: Glass roofs create a seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces, making internal space feel larger and allowing occupants to feel more connected to nature.