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How manufacturers can add value to the building design process
30.11.2017  |  Joanna Lush
Architects are responsible for a vast number areas within a build, each with different legislative standards and technical requirements, and for each area there will be a huge array of products on the market to meet the end use needs for those areas.
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Architects are responsible for a vast number areas within a build, each with different legislative standards and technical requirements, and for each area there will be a huge array of products on the market to meet the end use needs for those areas. As such, establishing a strong relationship with a manufacturer that possesses the requisite specialist knowledge will help to ensure a successful specification.  

Early engagement and collaboration at the initial design stage helps to refine the architect’s intended vision. With this in mind, potential challenges can be addressed, tested and overcome before the site is out of the ground. This is especially true when considering the intricacies and variables which affect the specification and end use of glass.

Benefit from expert advice

Manufacturer support can help an architect or designer define the specification, and going one step further, being able to prototype finishes and designs means that the best value for an entire glass package or single product can be achieved.

The reason this is encouraged is that with the demand for bespoke products some ideas are not always feasible.  One example is material laminates, where fabric is encapsulated between two sheets of glass, the material that is sourced by end clients is not always suitable.  

This is because during the fabric laminate process, the material is heated to a high temperature, which - depending on the material’s properties - may lead to it melting or experiencing discolouration. An experienced manufacturer can provide guidance on such pitfalls and create prototype tests to ensure that a suitable product is actually specified, which can be crucial to avoid project delays and achieve the desired look.

 

Laminated clear glass with a fabric interlayer on a silver mirror

An example of a fabric interlayer laminated with clear glass and mirror

Specification and prototyping services also involve understanding product longevity within the building’s lifecycle, and by defining glass type, thickness, colour and finish, it can aid the development of a fully signed-off specification. Additionally, if it’s a bespoke finish, an approved glass sample can be created. This information can then be presented to end-clients and contractors at tender stage as a fit for purpose product which will seamlessly integrate with the building’s interior design.

In addition, collaborative specification processes can allow the manufacturer to provide additional information on other suitable products and finishes that may not have been considered, or may not even be known - this is especially relevant in terms of longevity and operation and maintenance, such as adding coatings to glass which helps it to stay cleaner for longer.  

Benefit from BIM

Providing access to product specific BIM objects allows architects to use accurate BIM data rather than generic product information. This ensures design elements can be easily visualised and defined throughout the project’s timeline - providing vital information to the complete supply chain.

Installation Expertise

No matter how robust or detailed the design, and how high quality the glass product may be - it must be installed correctly. A full service end-to-end solution offering installation will provide benefits, such as project management, product warranties, as well as certified installation operatives, who are experts in glass handling and installation. These services should always include risk assessments, surveys and clear expectation management throughout the project. 

Cost and time saving

By taking advantage of a manufacturer’s range of services, cost and time saving benefits can be achieved. For example, discussion with the manufacturer should include advice on how to best transport, offload and store the glass, as well as identifying considerations for handling, such as whether any specialist lifting equipment is needed; this can prevent damage to goods and unexpected costs.

Project assistance from start to finish

At Gx Glass we collaborate with architects and designers, discussing product and end use requirements throughout a project’s lifecycle, offering customisable finishes and comprehensive processing systems to create the bespoke finishes.

By working collaboratively from an early stage, value can be added throughout the building design process. In addition, through providing expert advice and insight, processes such as product prototyping, troubleshooting and BIM - along with a seamless end-to-end installation - mean architects and designers can rest assured that a successful project outcome will be achieved.

 

Protecting Product Specifications
04.09.2017  |  Joanna Lush
When specifying a product, such as interior glass, it is essential that it is fit for purpose and blends seamlessly with a building’s design.
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When specifying a product, such as interior glass, it is essential that it is fit for purpose and blends seamlessly with a building’s design.

Alongside ensuring this, architects and designers have other areas to contend with when drafting a specification. These include meeting an increasing number of budgetary and green construction requirements, such as BREEAM, ensuring products meet the sustainable BES 6001 standard or comply with the environmental management ISO 14001 standard.

Andy Jobling at Levitt Bernstein suggests within the 2017 NBS Specification Report report that ‘as no individual can be an expert across all fields of the specification, there is a need for access to the accumulated knowledge and experience of the particular practice and the industry as a whole’.

This was further supported by the report finding that 94% of respondents encounter challenges when producing a specification, highlighting the importance of seeking specialist, expert manufacturer advice when creating a specification.  

Added to this, without explicitly naming the product and brand for the specification or by using the terms ‘equivalent or equal to’, the specification can be at risk of alternative products being used at a later stage of the process.

There are a multitude of challenges presented when a named product is swapped for an equivalent product, particularly when it comes to interior glass, as the replacement product may not meet all of the criteria for which it was specified.

One of the main concerns is the potential impact on safety. Choosing a cost-effective alternative may mean the product is not toughened – it may only be safety backed. This can result in it not meeting safety requirements and also increase its vulnerability to surface impact.  

Environmental credentials can also be affected. For example, solvent-based paints are often used in cheaper products, which can de-value what was originally an environmentally conscious decision. The origins of the raw materials within the supply chain can also differ, leading to reduced energy savings as part of the building’s overall sustainability targets and can even effect how a product can be recycled.  

Teal blue glass tea point splashback

A 6mm low iron back painted tea point splashback specified for a high traffic area

In addition, it’s important to consider the physical integrity of the product, as alternative products may be cost saving in the short term, but have a significantly shorter lifespan. This can lead to replacement costs exceeding that of the initially specified product.

We have also seen occasions where the details of the product, such as thickness, have not been defined at design stage and an incorrect thickness has been specified.  This can lead to both cost and safety concerns when manufacturers review the end use of the glass, as if the glass is too thick it can cause weight and handling issues, and if it’s too thin it won’t be fit for purpose and could break.  

We understand it’s very difficult for architects to be authorities in all product areas. However, by collaborating with specialist manufacturers throughout the specification process, architects can work closely with glass experts to select a product that is fit for purpose. This can ensure the project brief is met, with the product adding additional value, such as coatings that reduce the need to clean the glass product.

That’s where Gx Glass comes in, our specification and prototyping service allows customers to work with us to review the intended end use of the product and define the correct glass type, thickness, colour and finish, to meet their particular visual and safety needs. We can then work collaboratively to produce prototype samples until a final version is identified and approved.

In addition BIM objects are available for a number of our products, which can provide all of the relevant lifecycle data required for a specification.

Whilst it’s true that specifying can pose numerous challenges, utilising expert manufacturer prototyping and design services can ensure that a fit for purpose specification is created. These services also allow the integrity of the specification to be managed throughout the design and tender process to protect the added value that a named specified product can provide. 

 

 

Early Engagement Within the Design Process
13.07.2017  |  Joanna Lush
In any architectural design process, early engagement and collaboration between developer, architect, contractor and end-client is essential to ensure the creation of an environment which not only looks good and functions well, but has the right products specified for the right use at the right price.
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In any architectural design process, early engagement and collaboration between developer, architect, contractor and end-client is essential to ensure the creation of an environment which not only looks good and functions well, but has the right products specified for the right use at the right price.

But how easy is it for all parties to communicate effectively and work collaboratively to ensure added value, de-risked installations and defined specifications?

Today, the architect’s role is to accommodate all aspects of design including legal, technical and cultural knowledge. But to strengthen and support their vision, consistent discussion and planning with key decision-makers is essential, as well as adopting the latest standards and technologies.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become crucial in ensuring construction projects are completed efficiently. According to an NBS National BIM Report for Manufacturers, more than 71% of the design community respondents require manufacturers to provide BIM models to speed-up the design process. BIM’s embedded 3D information and objects mean construction and design elements can be easily visualised and defined, which creates the end-to-end lifecycle specification of a finished project.

But while BIM is gradually providing a framework for efficient collation of data, according to Ken Sanders, architecture and planning Managing Principal at Gensler, process innovation and timely decision making should be ‘squarely focused on people, partnerships and shared expertise’, for true success in collaboration.

 

ColourX backpainted red glass feature wall

Early engagement with the manufacturer ensures products are specified correctly

Providing an expert consultancy service, Gx Glass offers support for architects through the entire specification stage, providing guidance on feasible project ideas and identifying those which may require adaptation - i.e. safety requirements, practicality, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

This early engagement means the prototyping service can be utilised. Providing iterative glass samples enables the functional and design requirements including glass type, thickness, colour and finish to be discussed, as well as design boundaries to be explored and developed.

For example, utilising expert guidance can resolve potential specification issues, such as ensuring glass splashbacks for a development will be placed at the correct distance from the hob heat source, and on the correct substrate, and that the correct thickness of glass will be specified - preventing any potential challenges post-installation.

Following the initial specification, once out of the ground, logistics and the installation process can also be de-risked by utilising site visits to evaluate site access for the glass, where panels will join, how they will be fixed and what aftercare is required.

This is of paramount importance for all products and the huge variety of end-use applications, as for example, installation of glass within a changing room will differ from an office environment - including from the fixing methods to the aftercare requirements.

By incorporating key stakeholders during design decision-making processes and having an open and honest dialogue with experienced supply chain professionals ensures unrivalled insight, efficiency, cost and time savings during initial design stages. 

The benefits of early engagement provide tangible benefits in a risk-free, cost-effective, timely and professional installation of high quality products, ensuring the architectural vision becomes a reality.   

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