Gira's new plant in Germany: reinterpreting factory design with laminated glass

The new plant of electronics manufacturer Gira Giersiepen GmbH of Radevormwald, Germany uses laminated glass with Butacite® PVB interlayer to interpret factory construction in a new way – both in terms of technology and design and also with regard to creating a wonderfully pleasant and light-filled environment for office employees and blue-collar workers alike.Nothing could be further from the industrial revolution’s "dark satanic mills" (according to the poet William Blake’s description) than the luminous and gentle Gira factory, completed in August 2002 by architects Ingenhoven Overdiek Architekten of Duesseldorf, Germany.

Christoph Ingenhoven told LGN: "The specification was to house two floors with full basements for production and administration. Unlike the past, these two functional spaces are almost identical in character and, due to the use of laminated safety glass, both floors are flooded with natural daylight – in stark contrast to the closed environments of traditional production plants that have few or no windows. Instead, people inside Gira’s fully-glazed two-storey halls will benefit from optimal daylight until early evening. Our aim was to use laminated glass to provide workplaces of equally high standards for production and administration staff alike."
Shading is provided by external louvers. In the upper part of the façade towards the roof, laminated glass follows the curvature of the steel frame construction and helps to prevent heat build-up. Steel girders with a shallow apex arc and a 20 m span are installed at a centre-to-centre distance of 6.5 m. The girders appear to float freely, connected only by glazed walls and a light grid structure. They are reminiscent in shape of the railway machine halls from the early twentieth century.

However, as Ingenhoven remarks: "These crystal-clear, fully-glazed, laminated glass façades will not be blackened by rust and soot, for the modern, clean industrial production at Gira’s plant takes place in laboratory-like conditions. Here, the traditional difference between the workstations for office employees and the workbench stations for blue-collar workers has been deliberately eliminated.

"Everyone at Gira benefits from the spatial qualities of the transparent, light-filled work environment and the views onto the natural surroundings. Glass stairwells consisting of laminated glass with a coating against solar gain connect the new building tracts at both corners, forming sheltered courtyards that offer a pleasant work atmosphere for all employees."

Project architect Ben Dieckmann commented: "The use of laminated glass meant that we could have a building with glass roofing, non-vertical glass façades with an angle of more than 10 per cent and non-closed, glass balustrades again with glass roofing. All of these features meant that we could design a highly transparent, contemporary-looking factory with maximum internal and external views. Laminated glass enabled us to optimize the use of natural daylight. Importantly, laminated glass also provides an acoustic barrier, meaning that disturbance from factory noise to neighbouring buildings is minimized. "

Ingenhoven Overdiek Architekten particularly wanted to minimize energy consumption at Gira’s factory. Heat loads from production are re-channelled into the plant’s energy system. Natural ventilation is aided by flaps in the glazing.

Tambest Oy of Pirkkala, Finland supplied 550 m2 of curved laminated glass with 0.76 mm Butacite® PVB for this project. Tambest’s Liisa Teerenhovi confirmed that 55 m2 is single pane, extra clear laminated glass and the rest is insulating glass units with the following construction: outside pane: sun protection glass (Sunguard 52) / cavity with argon filling / inside pane of 6 mm k-glass / 0.76 mm PVB / 4 mm extra clear glass. Teerenhovi added that the laminated glass pane sizes are 1,150 x 3,194 mm.

600450 Gira's new plant in Germany: reinterpreting factory design with laminated glass
Date: 27 April 2004

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