Sensitively preserving the atmosphere and heritage of ancient buildings, whilst meeting contemporary structural requirements is always going to be a difficult challenge but the timeless qualities of glass can create and divide spaces without obscuring or detracting from centuries old architecture.
Increasingly, architects, builders and specifiers are recognising the value of incorporating glass into heritage renovations and refurbishments but it requires a wealth of experience to ensure that the glass installation meets every need.
Glass specialists Ion Glass have a well deserved reputation for their installations in heritage and ecclesiastical buildings and have developed some unique skills and techniques to ensure their wholly bespoke glass works perfectly in ancient buildings.
“Working in buildings originally constructed hundreds of years ago poses some very unique challenges”, said Ion Glass MD Peter Hazeldean.
“Once the project has been agreed with everyone concerned we have to ensure that the glass is fully functional, fits perfectly and can be installed with minimum disruption.
“We have developed a range of concealed fixing systems to ensure that the glass makes minimal impact on the substance of the original building, providing a robust finish that meets all structural requirements without the need for visually intrusive framework.
“All our glass is precisely templated prior to manufacture and we have perfected a technique that ensures the glass fits around out of true walls and corbels.”
Typically glass is used within churches to improve the heat insulation and to provide an acoustic barrier. A contemporary glass screen across the nave will minimise heat loss without impacting on the original architecture and won’t obscure the flow of light within the space or detract from existing stained glass windows.
A recent project at St Peter’s Church at Dunchurch added glass screens to a lowered bell ringing platform which provided an acoustic barrier between the bells, the bell-ringers themselves and the congregation. The design had to blend with the architecture of the church, ensuring that the beauty of the stained glass window at the end of the nave was preserved.
A full glass screen was installed across the front of the ringing chamber with multi-panel Planar glazing and supporting glass fins fixed into a bespoke stainless channel made to the exact shape of the original stone arch. Doors in the screen feature bespoke handles, manufactured by Ion Glass to perfectly reflect the shape of the arch itself. A further wide laminated balustrade panel was installed to protect the original stained glass window and glass balustrading at the front of the platform completes the installation.
The result is both stunning and functional, providing a contemporary solution that nevertheless wholly preserves the atmosphere and beauty of a church that dates back to the 13th century.
“We take on all aspects of the job”, added Peter Hazeldean. “Not just the glass, but the bespoke bracketry and fittings as well – that way we can offer a complete service that ensures the finished result works perfectly.”
Glass finishes vary considerably too. “We can commission artisan leaded windows as part of an overall project if required,” said Peter, “but more typically clients are looking for contemporary glass that is fully functional in a traditional setting. Glass can be specified in different finishes and coated for easy maintenance, with sandblasted designs or coloured to specification. We can also fit structural glass links between old and new buildings, providing a physical interface between centuries old construction and modern architecture.”
Glass is timeless, versatile, and robust but it is well worth consulting a specialist in bespoke heritage and ecclesiastical installations for the optimum result.
For more information about Ion Glass, please visit: www.ionglass.co.uk or call 0845 658 9988.