Thin Glass in Architecture - Possible Applications and Challenges
Thin glass offers a promising prospect for lightweight façades with reduced use of raw materials, also opening up entirely new perspectives for architectural expression with its excellent optical quality as well as its high flexibility. The realisation of projects featuring thin glass as a structural element is so far limited due to several challenges led by structural issues mainly induced by the product's low stiffness. This paper attempts to bypass this issue by exploring the possibilities of the structural application of thin glass as a membrane element using examples of all-glass projects from the past as well as researches conducted in the present. The use of thin glass as a compressive member is impractical since the risk of buckling poses a greater threat than stress exceedance. As an alternative, its application as a tensile member is proposed, supported by examples from academic and industrial researches. In this context, a new type of glass support is introduced, enabling a moment-free load transfer into the glass.