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Glass is not just a plain see-through

For several decades, Architects C R Narayana Rao (Consultants) Private Limited have designed hundreds of iconic buildings. The company has kept pace with the tectonic changes that have been taking place in building materials, construction techniques and the sheer size and volume of the buildings. If for long Dare House of Parry & Co or the LIC building in Anna Salai are ready examples of grand architecture, the last two decades have been witnessing larger, newer and more sophisticated buildings like the Tidel Park, TCS at Siruseri, Infosys at Mahindra World City, pointing to the increasing sophistication in concepts and designs.
C N Raghavendran (CNR), Managing Director, CRN, is intimately involved in professional bodies like the Glass Academy. He described the many changes in the character of glass in buildings. In constructing a house or an office, today the focus is on functionality, comfort and its fit into environmental needs. In large offices with the increase in footprints, there are of expectations on natural lighting, reduced heat and acoustics. Excerpts from a discussion:


Focus on light and acoustics

Natural lighting improves the efficiency and productivity of people. It helps them adhere to the circadian rhythm and influences work habits, productivity and mental attitude. This also impacts physical well-being. Today in designing a building all these issues are factored in. Lighting and acoustics assume high priority.
Use of glass has recorded a considerable increase. Technology has played a significant role in the production of glasses incorporating several advanced features: we have glass that transmits light to the extent desired but is glare-free and reduces noise. These are of great value for hot and humid climates. For cold climates, we have glass that would retain heat within the building. A vast variety of glasses with various properties are manufactured in India.

Glass offers wide choices…

Internal applications have also expanded manifold, like glass partitions that are sound-proof. The technology of glass manufacture has grown so much that at a flick of a switch one can make glass opaque, change colour or fully transparent. We also have high tech glasses that can be digitally controlled for light and heat transmission for different parts of the day.
With such vast choices available in glass, architects today have the facility to take to the advances in visualising the impact through digital simulation. In designing an office, one can precisely visualise and calculate how much of daylighting can be provided for different parts of a building at different times. Likewise, we can decide the acoustics for different sections of the office.

Rich inputs from SGRI

In these, a lot of rich information is available from theSaint-Gobain Research Centre, at the IIT-M Research Park where a lot of research work is focused on creating a habitat with glass aligned to the environment. The fruits of such research work is reached out to offer the right kind of product as also to use intelligently.
The Glass Academy is a professional body of experts from the academic world, facade engineering specialists, Architects, Builders, Sustainability experts and building related professors. The Academy applauds the massive efforts made by Saint-Gobain in making vast and continuous improvements in the applications of glass. Chairman CNR said that the Academy focuses on transmitting such knowledge for educating and training people in the entire value chain. The Academy provides vast information to architects on the use of glass for varied sections of a building.
Today sitting before a computer, or through webinars conducted by the Glass Academy presenting experts, one can learn on developments in the technology and uses of glass across the globe. The Academy also advises on curriculum and training. Importantly the growth of the glass industry and the technology associated with it have created job opportunities for hundreds of youth.

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