Kaleidoscope of opportunities

Mark Norcliffe, director at Cornwall Glass, discuss how colour PVB interlayers are creating a wealth of new opportunities for glass processors.

Now a landmark on the south east London skyline, Peckham Library, designed by Alsop and Störmer, claimed the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2000 – the first and to date only library to win British architecture’s highest honour.

The building is defined by its radical copper-clad inverted and cantilevered ‘L’ shape, which, supported by thin pillars, overhangs the plaza below – and in its highly imaginative use of glass.

The north face of the building (with the word ‘Library’ sitting on top of it), is completely glazed with a grid facade of clear and vividly coloured glass. This combines natural light and coloured tinted light within the library spaces and provides a contrast to the opaque metal used on the other side of the building.

Commercial architects have been embracing colour laminate interlayers for some time. What we’re now seeing is that move over into retail, in an increasingly diverse range of applications, from IGUs, to partitioning, balustrading – the opportunities are almost endless.

Cornwall Glass acquired multi-laminate specialist LW Architectural Glass at the end of March. Now operating as Cornwall Architectural Glass, London, it not only continues our journey along the north and east length of the M5 and M4 but brings a new range of specialist products into the fold – colour PVB among them.

While interlayers have been widely adopted in residential markets, for safety, UV protection, better acoustics and structural glass, none of these applications have exploited the design potential of colour.

That crossover from commercial specification is now greater in higher-end retail but also has far greater mass market potential, combining UV or acoustic performance with a new design element.

Opened as a purpose-built glass division by Lee Warren Fabrication and Design in 2014, the division gives Cornwall Glass some of the UK’s most advanced laminate capabilities on a grand scale.

This includes a laminate cast resin pour system and sterile operating-theatre type, climatic lamination facility, in addition to polyvinyl butyral (PVB), EVA and Century Guard systems.

Specialising in the production of high-end residential products and over-sized units, it’s also geared up for high volume manufacture. This includes the UK’s largest heat soak oven, capable of handling sheets 3,200mm wide by 11,000mm long, and the UK’s largest autoclave, which is capable of laminating glass of 2,500mm X 6,950mm.

This translates into a product offering that includes over-sized units, walk-on-floors, walk-on rooflights, staircases and balustrading plus more – laminate, the common denominator.

Our colour offer is founded on PVB. Coloured laminates from Cornwall Glass are manufactured in PVB interlayers from Vanceva. These are made with Vanceva’s heat and light-stable pigments rather than dyes, which means that they resist fading and have truer and longer-lasting colors.

Available in 17,000 colour combinations, including translucent, opaque and solid colours, these can block up to 99% of damaging UV radiation up to 380nm, also reducing solar heat gain and delivering all of the traditional benefits inherent in laminate glass, including, safety, security and sound control.

The Vanceva system was specified on Peckham Library – and some 17 years later, still retains its vibrancy. This shows just how stable and reliable this system is.

It also delivers flexibility for any combination of uses in the residential arena including window and door glazing, skylights, canopies, balconies, balustrades and internal doors and partitioning.

We’re talking about colour, which tends to lead to a discussion of more vibrant and brighter colours but colour PVB interlayers also come in a combination of far more subtle colours including whites and opaque finishes, which can be used to provide privacy and still retain natural light or as solid colours to screen areas from view.

The point is, that we can combine PVB interlayers in any combination and with any combination of products, which gives it huge potential in a retail environment and as part of an added-value sales strategy.

The new manufacturing capability means that in addition to its core product offer, Cornwall Glass can supply walk-on rooflights, glass floors, structural facades, balustrading, oversized IGUs, and painted and coloured glass.

Our architectural glass manufacturing capability may be based just outside London but we’re actually seeing rapidly increasing pull-through of product back to the west country and beyond, because the demand is also there.

The real advantage for our customers, including other glass processors, is that they can place orders through their existing Cornwall Glass depot or branch, pick it up locally or get it delivered direct to site.

Cornwall Architectural Glass, London, gives us new capability and new reach. Offering colour interlayer options is a real advantage, particularly in premium domestic and commercial markets – facades, internal and external design installations as well as over-sized IGUs”.

It’s the fit of that offer into the rest of our business, and what we can offer our customers, not just in and around London and the south east but across the rest of southern England, which is so exciting.