Glass was primarily used
in mirrors and windows until recently. Advances in glass technology have enabled
its use in architecture and interior decoration for aesthetic and functional
With today’s technology,
the versatility of glass in interior design has assumed new dimensions.
Advances in processes have increased both the finishes available, and the
integrity of the glass itself. It is available in glazed, laminated, toughened
and acoustic versions for various applications like doors and windows,
partitions and architectural features like balustrades, structural glazing,
atrium ceiling and conservatories. Skylights constitute a major application for
glass in commercial and residential buildings.
In the contemporary world
of design, the clarity and elegance of glass have added to the scope for
aesthetic improvement as well as sheer functionality. The transparency of glass
allows a home or office to add light and space to any environment, imparting a
feel-good experience to the occupants while providing structures with an
ambiguous, floating quality. It opens up the interiors and allows free flow of
light. Glass also goes well with other materials like wood and metal.
Touch of style
From partitioning and
shower enclosures to mirrors, wall paneling, cladding for pillars, cabinet and
wardrobe doors and showcases, light wells, floor panels, stair treads,
balustrades and furniture, glass adds a touch of real style to give every area
a chic, contemporary and up market look. Glass has a wealth of qualities that
make it the best choice for flooding an area with colour.
Colour-coated glass in various shades can provide a
stunning look to walls and surfaces. It can also be used in bathrooms with
While beveled glass is
today a preferred material for paneling, frosted glass is used in bathrooms.
Interior designers maintain that nothing beats the fragile elegance of glass.
The range of uses extends to shower enclosures, walls, staircases and even
Laminated safety glass is
made from two pieces of flat glass sandwiched by a resin chemical inter layer
using self adhesive double-sided foam tape. It is impact resistant and
shatter-proof offering safety. High end versions are also made for noise
insulation and UV filtration.
From the design angle, the transparency of
glass ensures that it does dominate the space. Unlike other materials, glass
blends with other elements and does not demand a share of the space. This is a
major advantage, especially for small rooms and other spaces.
One room where glass is
virtually displacing other materials is the kitchen. In most households, almost
50 per cent of the vessels are of glass. While the advent of
microwave ovens have dictated the switch in some cases, housewives swear
by the hygienic property of glass and the ease of washing. Resistance to
scratches is another major reason.
Ordinary glass is
extremely dangerous because it breaks into jagged pieces that cause serious
injuries. Falling glass from high-rise buildings can cause fatal injuries. It
is imperative to use proper glass in our buildings.
Annealed glass is glass
without internal stresses caused by heat treatment (i.e
toughening or heat strengthening). Glass becomes annealed if it becomes heated
above a transition point, then allowed to cool slowly, through not quenched.
Thus glass made using the float glass process is annealed by the process of
manufacture. As a result glass is simply described or specified as "float
glass". Annealed glass is the common glass that breaks into large, jagged
shards that can cause serious injury. Hence annealed glass is considered a
hazard in architectural applications. Building codes in many parts of the world
restrict the use of annealed glass in areas where there is a high risk of breakage
and injury, for example in bathrooms, in door panels, fire exits and at low
heights in schools.
has recently introduced a range of imported premium design glass range for
interiors. The new generation glasses come in lacquered, geometric textured,
clear patterned, matt finished, translucent, patterned and silvered versions to
suit different applications. The company claims that its new range has opened
up immense possibilities in interior design. All the versions can be cut,
drilled and surface processed for various applications. In commercial
institutions, glass is slowly replacing wood, particle board and other
materials for partitions. The latest trend is the stand- alone glass panels
that can be installed without an aluminium frame.
Imported etching tapes
that can print corporate logos, designs and images on glass are the latest
rage. Glass bricks available in various sizes are also used for partitions.
Types of safety glass
There are different
categories of safety glass:
Toughened (T) - toughened
by a heat treatment. It disintegrates into small, granular pieces, which are
not sharp, and reduces the risk of injury. Small pieces will still be dangerous
to children and so ensure they are kept away in the event of breakage.
Laminated (L) - Two or
more sheets of ordinary glass attached together by a plastic interlayer. On
impact any broken glass will remain attached to the plastic layer reducing the
risk of injury.
Wired glass (W) - Has a
network or mesh of wires embedded in it.
Toughened glass does not
break easily; if impacted with a force that it is not able to withstand, it
breaks into small fragments that do not inflict grave injuries. Tempering of
glass is a process by which the impact strength of normal annealed glass is
increased by 4 to 5 times. The process involves heating up of the glass to near
about melting point (650 degree Celsius) and subsequent quenching. The sudden
temperature difference puts the glass into a state of compression with the
centre core in tension. Tempered glass gets added strength from these
The use of this type of
glass will promote safety. Architects and builders have already switched to
tempered (either toughened or heat-strengthened) glass in new building or
construction projects. The United
States and the European Union have already
made tempered glass a standard specification in buildings. In our country,
glass tempering plants produce the required quality indigenously for various
applications and in a range of different thickness.
Laminated glass is a type
of safety glass that holds together when shattered. In the event of breakage,
it is held in place by an interlayer, typically of Poly Vinayl
Butyle (PVB), between two or more layers of glass.
The interlayer keeps the layers of glass bonded even when broken, and its high
strength prevents the glass from breaking up into large sharp pieces. This
produces a characteristic "spider web" cracking pattern when the
impact is not enough to completely pierce the glass.
Laminated glass is
normally used when there is a possibility of human impact or where the glass
could fall if shattered. Shop-front glazing and windshields are typically
laminated glasses. The PVB interlayer also gives the glass a much higher sound
insulation rating, due to the damping effect, and also blocks 99% of
transmitted UV light. Using toughened glass on windshields would be a problem
when a small stone hits the windshield at speed, as it would shatter into the
small squares making visibility difficult and it would also be likely that the
wind would blow the small squares into the driver and passenger's eyes.
For decades, wired glass
has been the most common fire-rated glass product specified in schools. It's no
wonder - it provides economical and reliable fire protection. And for a long
time, wired glass was the only product available that could do the job. But
there is a down side: despite its tough appearance, wired glass can't tolerate
much impact. And when it breaks, the wires can create nasty snags, possibly
inflicting serious injury.
When fire codes were
first drafted, there were no alternatives to wired glass. So
wired glass was granted an exemption from meeting impact safety requirements.
The consensus was that the risks posed by fire were greater than the risks
posed by breakage. But fire safety without impact safety isn't enough for the
current day requirements, especially when you have a corridor filled with
students jostling each other on their way to class. In such settings, wired
glass can be a disaster waiting to happen and one should invariably prefer