3 Glass Gems

Apart from the exposure to particular experts who I would never normally meet, the chance to mingle with peers over beautifully displayed excess of food is another reason I enjoy a good conference! Its the idea of “learn something” and “live a little” conveniently combined.

The recent SAGGA conference at the Elangeni in Durban was no exception. We were treated to some inspiring architectural innovators, some impressively knowledgeable technical experts and some excellent catering.

There was a lot to take in, so here are a few gems I picked out:

1.       It can get very technical

The SA glass industry has become a lot more sophisticated in the last year as have the building codes, which means that specifying glazing is no mean feat. Knowing a little about everything, and knowing where to go for the right advice is key.

2.       The value of collaboration and communication

It goes beyond just specifications: glazing engineers can be useful too. They can even become your favourites on the project team, as confessed by Derick Henstra of DHK.

I asked Amandus Sattler, how he handled an office of 60 people and still managed to produce such conceptually and technically thorough buildings, such as the Herz Jesu Kirche in Munich.  Would it not just be easier to keep it small and hands-on, ala Glen Murcutt? Not at all, he replied. His experience of ideas is that they are always more useful when shared.

Sharing ideas and vision is not easy and the ability of an architect to communicate their concept and vision to their team is vital, as is the team’s ability to communicate back. Sattler must be a very articulate man, when he speaks German that is. He had us chucking as he mentally wrestled the English language.

Tower Docks, Mestre, Italy by DHK: Any glazing specialist who can handle this deserves kudos!

DHK’s Laguna Palace Hotel, Italy: With 13 000m2 of roof area, of which 8000m2 is glass, this is one of the largest in Europe.

Boxes: the outer one glazed.

Front doors open to include and welcome those on the piazza.

Interior light is filtered through timber panels.

Above: Herz Jesu Kirche: Conceptually thorough on so many levels. For more images click here

3.       Use the recession to your advantage

Upskilling, entering competitions and playing around are useful ways to spend your time when work is slow. Amandus Sattler would not have built the Herz Jesu Kirche had he not taken the chance with a competition.

Henning Rasmuss, of Paragon Architects, also stressed the importance of having the time to be playful in projects: trying new things, putting ideas out there, and learning new computer rendering skills.

Paragon Architects: Alice Lane Towers

Paragon Architects: Jupiter Drawing Room offices

Above: Playful buildings in Joburg by Paragon Architects

After a full day of presentations there were definitely many reasons to be optimistic about the future of glass in SA. I dare say the glass is clearly half full!

Excuse my corniness!


For more on the conference speakers click here.

For some links to glazing legislation, as well as aluminium and other products click here.

For some free glass-calculation tools recommended by speaker Andreas Landman of PFG [ click here ].

*SAGGA stands for South African Glass and Glazing Association


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