Advanced glass to protect Kendal from floods

Construction has begun on a flood defence wall in Kendal, located in southern Cumbria. Using high-performance glass within a high specification stainless steel frame, this feature of the flood scheme is designed to protect homes and businesses from flooding, without spoiling the town’s historic beauty and retaining riverside views.

The 39m wall is under construction following planning approval for the first phase of a wider project to build 6km of flood walls and embankments. This is the first phase of a three-phase scheme where the Environment Agency will deliver further flood defences to protect the most vulnerable homes in the area.

In addition, flood storage in the upper catchment with complimentary Natural Flood Management will slow the flow and provide greater resilience. Once complete, it will reportedly reduce the risk of flooding for over 1,480 homes and 1,100 local businesses.

The glass used as part of the innovative flood wall is a bespoke creation developed in collaboration with Pilkington UK and chemical and materials manufacturer, Kuraray.

It features alternating layers of glass and interlayer to create a 3 mm laminate, with toughened Pilkington Activ as the outer panes and a toughened 12mm Pilkington Optiwhite middle pane. The glass panels undergo rigorous strength testing and, according to Pilkington, have the capability to safely hold back water in the event of water levels rising.

Pilkington Activ self-cleaning glass reacts with natural daylight to break down and loosen organic dirt. After the dirt is broken down the coating spreads rainwater evenly over the surface of the glass, helping to wash it away.

Kuraray’s support is said to have ensured greater stability and clarity for the glass. A Kuraray SentryGlas interlayer helps to ensure that should the glass be struck and fractured, the composite structure would still maintain resistance to the dynamic loading and impacts associated with flood waters.

The design uses their patented technology, which was originally created to withstand severe hurricanes in the United States. This means the laminated glass is well suited to high stress environments, including the pressures and influences caused by floodwater and debris.

The project became imperative after Storm Desmond caused widespread flooding to the area in 2015 and is being led by the Environment Agency and supported by South Lakeland District Council and Kendal Town Council.

Peter Maj, area sales manager at Pilkington UK, said: “This project has been one of collaboration and innovation to ensure that we provide residents of Kendal with a solution that not only benefits them in terms of safety, but remains unobtrusive to the town’s landscape and heritage.

“Our work with Kuraray has enabled us to provide a sophisticated glass solution that will stand up against the harshest conditions. The addition of our self-cleaning technology means that residents can rest assured that the proposed flood defences will remain clear, needing little maintenance throughout its service.”

Jonathan Cornthwaite at Kendal Town Council said: “The Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme will and already is proving beneficial for the local community. The safety of our residents is of the utmost importance to us, so the flood wall protecting the area’s most vulnerable whilst preserving the scenic beauty of our town is a welcome addition to Kendal’s riverbanks.

“And this is just the start – we’re looking forward to broadening protection further in the summer of this year with the next phase of this important community project.”