​ Glass Spandrel Panels: Safety, Style and Simplicity

Latest News Thu, Jul 7, 2022 7:56 AM


There’s nothing quite so striking in a city skyline as those soaring, glass facades, reflecting the changing sky and bringing the buildings to life. But these constructions are complex and demand solutions that allow aesthetic design, safety and ease of install to be combined without compromise.

Whether refurbishing an existing structure or developing a cutting-edge, contemporary new build, the way architects incorporate glass facades into building design can create iconic constructions. Supporting these glass curtain walls are the spandrel panels between floors, which hide unsightly structural elements and auxiliary necessities. Where in the past architects may have had to compromise design to ensure this zone performs well, with Speedpanel A2® Glass, beauty, safety, performance and ease of installation all work as one.

Currently unique on the UK market (UK Patent Application No. 2201665.3), Speedpanel A2® Glass is the result of years of careful development, creative collaboration and rigorous testing. Designed to address the needs and concerns of both specifiers and installers, the benefits of our glass-faced, fire-rated, insulated spandrel panel offer peace of mind at every stage of a build – from design and specification through to installation and building occupancy.

Safety

Since December 2018, Approved Document B of the Building Regulations, under B4 External fire spread, Regulation 7 has required that external walls of ‘relevant buildings’ over 18 metres can only be constructed with materials achieving a European Class A1 or A2-s1, d0 rating in accordance with BS EN 13501-1. This includes non-vision window spandrel panels.

When working with a built-up system, each individual component must be tested and certified for fire performance. However, this only tests how components act in isolation, whereas a real fire situation requires the whole system to work together to prevent the fire from spreading. We test Speedpanel A2® Glass as an entire unit through independent testing with Warringtonfire, enabling specifiers to feel confident in the performance of the product as a whole.

Whilst traditional built-up spandrel systems involve multiple layers of internal facings, insulation and rainscreen protection, requiring complex assembly onsite, Speedpanel A2® Glass comprises a complete unit, pre-assembled and sealed in the factory. Composite panels use adhesives to bond various materials together, which can make achieving the required A2-s1, d0 fire rating a real challenge, as many adhesives feature solvents, isocyanates or PVC, all of which are highly flammable. We worked with Henkel Loctite to create a specially developed adhesive that meets all our demands, including fire classification and grab strength, enabling the Speedpanel A2® range to obtain that all important A2-s1, d0 classification.

Ease of installation

By manufacturing our glass spandrel panels as single, pre-insulated units, there is no assembly required on site. From our experience installing through our parent company, Speedclad, we’ve seen that over-torquing, screw-threading, incorrect layering and mis-cut insulation are all common issues that arise during onsite assembly of built-up systems. These errors can potentially compromise thermal efficiency, fire performance and the lifespan of the installation, which in turn undermines the performance of the building.

Challenges on a construction site mean it is often difficult to also ensure consistent quality, especially on high-rise structures with different aspects of the build being carried out simultaneously. In the development of Speedpanel A2® Glass as a glaze-in system, we worked to directly address these issues of assembly. By taking this approach in a factory-controlled environment, many of the problems prevalent with built-up systems are prevented before products ever reach site.

It’s impossible for those designing and specifying for a building to be there at every step to ensure that the final construction reflects the intended design and performance. As a single-component, factory-engineered solution, Speedpanel A2® Glass can remove much of the margin for error, ensuring reliable specification and preventing many errors brought about by on-site panel assembly, maintaining the integrity of the curtain wall.

Beauty

Creating safe, high-performing buildings should always be the priority – and yet creating beautiful buildings is also incredibly important. Aesthetics is one of the principal aspects considered in architecture. A building’s visual appeal considers the combined effects of many different elements, including its shape, size, balance, unity, decoration and context. Architectural beauty has evolved over the centuries but always played a central role in shaping how we respond to our built environment – whether at home, work or out for leisure.

Glass has long been a popular material for enhancing the beauty of a building, allowing natural light to flood internal spaces and creating vibrant exteriors that reflect and change with the surroundings. In glazed curtain wall facades, the external finish of the spandrel zone can visually either interrupt or unify the glazing. Speedpanel A2® Glass facilitates either kind of architectural vision, offering a modular solution finished in toughened glass that can be coloured in any shade on the grey-scale spectrum.

This can be especially important with remediation work. Retrofitting suitable spandrel panels into an existing structure is an essential safety measure to ensure that all buildings, not just new developments, are safe environments to live and work in. The flexibility afforded by Speedpanel A2® Glass modular units offer the potential to visually transform a building, or to seamlessly maintain the existing design. The pre-manufactured nature of these panels allows building designers to still uphold excellent thermal and fire performance without compromising the aesthetic vision of the structure.

Download the technical data sheet for Speedpanel A2® Glass or specify directly on NBS Source.

In association with Speedpanel


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