London Architecture Soars to New Heights

Designed by Renzo Piano, the Shard was constructed with a low-iron, double glazed facade. Image by Tomasz Sikorski.

Olympians will soon reach for new heights in London, as they sprint, swim and flip for gold, silver and bronze. At the same time, the event’s host city has also reached new heights. Standing 1,017.06 feet, the recently constructed Shard is the first skyscraper in Western Europe to both reach and exceed 1,000 feet in height. Inaugurated earlier this month, the tower, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, features a 602,779-square foot glass façade constructed with 11,000 lites. Glass was supplied by Pilkington NSG and fabricated by Interpane and Flachglas Wernberg. Based in the Netherlands, Scheldebouw B.V., part of the Permasteelisa Group, was the curtainwall contractor.

With its glassy façade, the project has been likened to resemble a large iceberg or shard of glass. The tower is part of London Bridge Quarter and is comprised of commercial, retail and residential occupancy. Construction began in 2009 and was completed this year.

As described by the architect, eight glass shards define the shape of the tower. The passive double façade uses low iron glass throughout with a mechanized roller blind in the cavity providing solar shading. In the “fractures” between the Shard’s openings, vents provide natural ventilation to winter gardens.

Constructed with Pilkington Optiwhite glass, fabrication was handled by Interpane, which was responsible for the coatings, while Flachglas Wernberg constructed the insulating glass (IG) units. According to information provided to the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal by Interpane, the company was involved “right from the beginning of the planning stage and decided on the right glass coating [ipasol bright white] together with the architect. This coating has become very popular because of the Shard and its further development has continued, with all the relevant certifications (general planning authority approval etc.).”

In addition, Interpane also supplied its iplus neutral E (on thermally toughened [TVG 8] white glass) and ipasol neutral 61/33 on white glass in the areas without a double-skinned façade. Likewise, the company also supplied some of the IG. This included, according to the company, the first oversize XXL glazing in the United Kingdom, with a length of around 7.6 meters in ISO made from 2 X laminated safety glass … with a grey silicone edge seal and an iplus E coating.

The Shard was constructed as a four-sided, bonded glass curtainwall, designed with an irregular triangular shape from the base to the top. The panels were bonded and sealed with Sika’s Sikasil SG-500, Sikasil IG-25 HM and Sikasil WS-605 S respectively. According to Sika, for the Shard Sikasil SG and Sikasil WS were created to meet the architect’s expectations.

The Shard is a project that has changed the skyline of London. Internal work on the Shard is still underway and the project is expected to be open to the public in 2013.