Structural Glass for Historic Churches

01.11.2021

Most of Britain’s finest inspirational churches are hundreds of years old, and although their architectural style and materials add to their allure,the requirements of current communities mustn’t be disregarded for the sake of zealously keeping them in a bygone era.

In the past few decades, far too many old churches have devolved into decrepit shells, and sensitive alteration is frequently the key to their survival, allowing for more community and congregational usage.

While continued care and restoration of the existing structure are obviously necessary, the dilemma of how to upgrade the church to suit 21st-century demands and standards without sacrificing the beauty of the original design may prove to be a greater task.

Importance of Structural Glass in Historic Churches

Structural glass is tough, long-lasting, and simple to maintain, and it can suit a wide range of modern needs with minimum aesthetic effect. While conserving heat and sound, adding additional areas with glass will allow natural light to brighten the interiors (particularly significant when stained glass windows are a significant constituent).

The use of structural glass allows for considerable improvements to the space’s operation without concealing or destroying the old church fabric. Because the masonry in old structures was hewn manually, assessing the space is very important.

When inspected with a laser distance measuring device, arches that look absolutely regular often turn out to be significantly asymmetrical. The employment of a contour gauge to document every aspect of the stonework to produce the best outcome is required when fitting glass properly around stone corbels and engravings.

Each piece of structural glass must be personalized, and specification correctness is crucial. The tolerance in glass manufacturing varies with the size of the panel, but a glass expert with experience documenting complicated and uneven surfaces may achieve a tight fit to the actual stonework. To know more on structural glazing, https://glazingcentre.co.uk/products/structural-glass/ 

Structural Glass to Offer New Spaces - Holy Trinity Church, Chelsea

The inclusion of a meeting hall in a church gives the opportunity for new and expanded applications, whether it’s a space where smaller kids may be looked for during Sunday services to allow their parents to worship without disturbance or a quiet spot for dialogue or counseling.

In the heart of affluent Chelsea, Holy Trinity Church is located just across Sloane Square. The church’s need for meeting spaces had to be handled within the building due to its constrained urban location; there was no space available outdoors.

The space underneath the ancient gallery on each side of the church’s entrance gate had been utilized for informal gatherings and storage, but it provided little seclusion. Plans were set up for two chambers made of structural glass that would provide an unobstructed view of the aisle.

Heat Loss Minimization - St Nicolas, Great Bookham

The cost of heating equipment at St Nicolas Church of Great Bookham has become a serious drain on funds. The 11th-century structure is an archetypal community church that had grown through the years but had not received any substantial upgrades in recent times.

The congregation had grown accustomed to feeling the coolness in the winters caused by heat loss up the old west tower and draughts from the doors.

The glass was employed to construct a shield across the nave’s width, as well as a glass door that would fit within the original wooden entrance. Accurate measurements were recorded to guarantee that the structural glass fits snugly around the correct form of each corbel and was sealed to prevent heat loss. During services, the shield also reduces the aural invasion of the bells.

Glass Balustrades - St Andrew Undershaft, London

A mezzanine level or gallery section may greatly enhance floor space, while the incorporation of a glass balustrade allows natural light to illuminate and maximize the appearance of original elements.

There’s a whole variety of glass balustrade systems available, each with a different set of mounting possibilities. The applicable architectural aesthetic, construction and budgetary restrictions must all be carefully considered when selecting the proper system for a historic church.

Glass panels that are both curved and upright can be used, and the panels can be trimmed to fit around masonry and arches. The balustrade can also be made frameless, eliminating the visual interruption of a railing.

The glass balustrades at St Andrew Undershaft, London are made of 21.5mm thick laminate glass that is fastened to the gallery floor’s foundation using a proprietary technique.

A single series of stainless steel screws along the gallery’s front edge serves to produce a clean, attractive appearance, while a white coating sprayed immediately to the glass hides the unfinished floor surface. It presents an exquisite sweep of glass across the entire span of the gallery, with curving panels at both extremes.

Safeguarding Stained Glass - St Peter’s Church, Dunchurch

Incorporating structural alterations to a church’s fabric might alter floor levels, making windows that were formerly far above ground level approachable and vulnerable to harm. Installing a structural glass panel in front of the old window is one option.

To conserve the surrounding masonry while still safeguarding the window and satisfying contemporary building regulations, a delicate approach to design and construction is required.

A renovated bell-ringing area in the church of St Peter’s Church, Dunchurch, constructed a chamber at the same level as the old stained glass window. A singular span of oversized glass was created in front of the glass, with unique stainless steel fasteners to keep the glass in position. The panel is inconspicuous, yet it shields the window from the space’s users.

Linking Historic and Modern - Structural Glass

Installation of structural glass in the historic monuments not only welcomes natural light but also makes the space more inviting. These glass screens offer transparency in the structure and at the same time, serve various functions like noise insulation, minimizing heat loss, and welcoming users in the church.

Structural glass is a flexible material that gives up numerous possibilities for old churches, allowing them to suit current needs while preserving the original structure. Know more about structural glazing, https://glazingcentre.co.uk/blog/structural-glazing/ .