Ferro Corporation, the world leader in glass ceramic enamels, and its digital glass printing arm Dip-Tech, are proud to present their scaled model concept of a commercial building at Glass Technology Live, Hall 11, glasstec’ central hub and most important source of inspiration and innovation (October 23-26, 2018).
Glass building as a reflection of nature
The main idea behind this project was to present sustainable architecture in its most natural form. The inspiration for the shape of this futuristic building is the organic growth of a tree and its inherently irregular structure, demonstrating the complexity and beauty of its natural composition through glass.
The model comprises two main towers, each one representing a conceptual stem. A V-shape embodies the two glass towers, which reach up from the building’s base to the sky. Its layouts are positioned based on the effects of the cardinal directions (North, South, East and West), to ensure proper glass applications for each façade.
Two elevator shafts support 13 floors, and 107 pieces of custom-made glass separate the floors. Each piece of glass represents a row of individual glass panels showcasing the utility of insulated glass units, which are frequently used to increase the energy performance of a façade. Consideration of these panels in the design process makes them an integral part of the entire composition, with seamless transitions between the insulated glass units required. This type of system, predominant in glass towers, is accompanied by glass spandrels, which usually hide the construction of each floor, with basic solid colors.
As irregular silhouettes are commonly found in nature, several off-shape pieces of glass were created, the majority of which are different from one another. Adding them onto the lateral sides of the building enhances its organic appearance, and creates a representative curtain wall. This double skin is essential to isolate the building’s interior from extreme hot and cold climate changes.
Ecological construction process
Using printed glass as a substitute material is not only eco-friendly, it also allows for new creative opportunities. Hidden patterns within the textures come to life when the glass is lit from behind. This printing technique, called active glass, is made possible through ink density control.
Light transmittance and heat control
The northern side of the building requires wider entries of light. Dip-Tech’s architecture division chose a pattern of small dots, as opposed to a full print, which allows light to come through while creating interior shading. This saves costs in artificial lighting and air conditioning. The team also chose an abstraction of natural components, such as leaves and branches, and converted them into a dotted pattern by processing the images through proprietary pattern generator software. This software can control the scale of the pattern, in relation to its light transmittance and heat reduction.
A sustainable design takes into consideration the building’s effects on its immediate surroundings. For example, birds constantly collide with glass façades that reflect the surroundings and confuse the birds, causing high mortality rates. As such the patterns implemented here are carefully designed based on extensive research, to help resolve the well-known global issue in glass building – bird collision.
Then there’s the issue of energy-efficiency. In glass buildings, a side exposed to constant radiation must reduce its glare by implementing a matte appearance. Here this is achieved through Dip-Tech and Ferro Side-1 inks. These inks are designed to be more radiation-resistant, further reducing the solar heat gain that easily penetrates a typical glass façade.
Visual and cultural impact
A sustainable façade goes beyond economic and ecological aspects. It can achieve cultural value by creating artistic expressions to enhance the visual experience of the city.
Most buildings will use films and external structures to reduce heat light and bring out the building’s color. Digital ceramic glass printing allows the same functionality, without compromising the designer’s creative abilities. In contrast to the curvy shapes of the wooden surface, geometrical rectangles were added to express a part of the wide-range color spectrum of ceramic inks.
Logos are also a crucial element of the building’s image, as seen in many commercial towers. Signage prints are easily distributed throughout the façade and enhanced with light. This is demonstrated by enhancing the façade using a combination of Dip-Tech’s high-performance inks, and Ferro’s Lust Reflex, which changes its color, based on different light angles as passersby move along the building.
For an added effect, a double vision technique was implemented on the building’s eastern façade. This allows different functional scenarios to be seen through the same glass panel, reflecting the sun on the exterior side and allowing a better view towards the outside. The second skin is composed of Ferro’s Side-1 inks, perfect for solar-exposed façades.
Glass canopies around the lower levels are printed with patterns of digital etch ink, and a textured digital anti-slip ink has been added to the street level glass floor. These patterns are certified to allow passengers to walk through securely.
Glass balconies are printed with Ferro’s Cool Black ink, a specialized ink used to reduce glass temperature, using a custom screen print pattern.
To demonstrate interior functions of glass, one floor of the building model will be open to viewers. It displays a possible scenario composed of interior applications created with digital ceramic printing. In this case, a digital-mix gold print pattern is used as a wall cover for the elevator shafts, and semi-transparent patterns are applied as room dividers, to create privacy between the spaces.