Pilkington: Benelux builds the sound barrier

The Netherlands are known for their network of dikes - now the latest addition to the system is being built of Pilkington glass.

The innovative acoustic dike is a 1.5km long sound barrier designed to protect Utrecht's commercial district from the noise of the busy A2 trunk road. Built entirely of glass and steel, the long curving structure is an example of Event Structure architectural design, which avoids straight lines. Halfway along its length is a streamlined, 180m long building known as the Cockpit, which will be used as a showroom for luxury cars. Both barrier and Cockpit have been designed by architect Kas Oosterhuis.

The Euros 2.6m project is the biggest - and the most unusual - ever undertaken by Pilkington Benelux, who are supplying 8,850 triangular glass plates, a total of 12,800m2, to make up the continuous curving shape. The barrier itself uses grey float, and the Cockpit's 2,000m2 façade will be glazed in three specifications of Pilkington Insulight™ Sun.

The Benelux Bu Glastechniek operation has also developed a completely new system for fixing the glass plates, using rubber profiles attached to aluminium fittings which are then fixed to the steel structure. "We were the only supplier able to come up with a solution and still keep within the project budget," said business unit manager Kees Vermeulen.

"It is a very complex project. When you have straight lines, it is easy enough to draw a plan or a model. When you have almost no straight lines you have to develop a very good 3-D way of thinking."

Building has already started on the barrier and work is expected to finish in April 2005.

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