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“The tallest, heaviest sliding glass door of all”: a case study

Minimalist windows explore the potential of structural glass to provide large sliding glass doors with extremely thin doorframes. Today’s architectural demands, dictated by the aim for transparency and spatial continuity between inside and outside, always push for better performances — more ef cient and dynamic systems — and ever-larger full-height sizes — with oversize glass panes often above the Jumbo dimension.
Large windowpane dimensions impose new technical challenges, requiring prior meticulous calculation and compelling each element to be re-engineered, and sometimes obliging appropriate machinery to be built for their installation. This paper focuses on this challenge, with ever-increasing precision in manufacturing and assembly to ensure glass panels to be operated with lightness and provide ease of maintenance, despite their size and weight. Taking a 2015 UK-based residential project as a case study, this paper illustrates the challenges in terms of planning, engineering, supply and assembly of motorized 26 m2 double glass sliding panes 8m-high, weighing 3 tons each.
Despite the exceptional character of these limit situations, the problems raised by operating with massive elements are fundamental to raise awareness about aspects that are not so evident at a smaller scale or standard solutions, ultimately leading to improving products. Indeed, this customized solution formed the prototype for a new sliding door series, combining large glass sizes with strict thermal performance requirements, designed according to Minergie-P and Passivhaus standards.
Written by Pedro Borges de Araújo and Carlos Machado e Moura, this paper was presented at the GPD FINLAND 2019 — Glass Perfomance Days in Tampere.