Product / system manufacture
Product / system supply
University of Aberdeen
Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Pihl UK Ltd
Crystal balustrade; Natura handrail
The new Aberdeen University Library, designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen, provides an advanced learning and cultural facility for students and the local community. It houses over one million books, including the University’s distinguished collection of rare historic manuscripts and archives, which will be stored in the building’s controlled-environment lower floors.
A complex curved glass and oak balustrade was required and Sapphire Balustrades was approached to help.
Sapphire Balustrades' versatile Crystal range was chosen for the project. The design features Sapphire’s frameless structural glass infill panels uninterrupted by balusters, creating a free-flowing balustrade that sweeps around a vast asymmetrical atrium, which spirals the height of the eight storey building. Eye-catching glass panels complemented by natural hardwood handrails from Sapphire’s Natura range and totally concealed fixings, specially designed by Sapphire for the project, combine to form the most unique and inspiring element in this innovative building.
The Crystal glass panels for the new library’s balustrade were specified in 15mm clear toughened glass to satisfy safety and loading requirements. Sapphire calculated 50 different radii for the curved glass panels to achieve the balustrade’s spiralling contours. The 50mm hardwood handrails were manufactured using hydrated oak timber, which was formed to suit the shape of the curved balustrade. Once installed in the balustrade, the timber continues to harden as it dries to produce a high-strength handrail with the warm and welcoming appeal of natural wood.
With extensive experience in the manufacture and installation of high-quality balustrades, Sapphire was able to assist the architect and contractor in bringing the spectacular 250 metre balustrade to reality.
Sapphire’s team in Scotland worked closely with the project’s main contractor, Pihl UK Ltd, to provide the new library with a balustrade solution that satisfies the complex aesthetic specification as well as the specific functional and legislative requirements.
Pihl UK’s Site Manager says Sapphire’s manufacturing expertise and end-to-end project care was invaluable for staying on the tight programme. She comments: “The work undertaken by Sapphire on this challenging project was of a very high standard and we were impressed with their fast-track capability, particularly on late request items, which contributed to smooth completion on schedule.”