Bridging the elements

The designers of the £32 million Charnock Bradley Building – centrepiece of the University of Edinburgh’s expanding Easter Bush Campus eight miles south of the city – was to create a building that would reflect the cutting-edge work happening inside, as well as providing a bright and modern space to attract world-class academics, students and businesses to the institution.

The heart of the centre is a dramatic full-height glazed atrium which incorporates a series of bridges at higher levels linking laboratory spaces in the building’s two distinct wings.

Atkins, the architect, wanted to make the space as bright and open as possible, so specified a structurally glazed wall and a glass roof to minimise framing and provide clear uninterrupted views in and out of the building.

To achieve this, Atkins worked with Charles Henshaw and Son and the Pilkington design team, which resulted in the Pilkington Planar system being used to create a striking glass atrium.

The insulated glass units supplied on both the walls and roof contained Pilkington Suncool 66/33 OW on 12mm Pilkington Optiwhite a low-iron substrate providing excellent thermal performance, aesthetics and views both into the building and out to the landscape surrounding the building.

The transparency and aesthetics of the atrium were further enhanced by the use of 19mm Pilkington Optifloat Clear THS toughened and heat-soaked glass fins to support the vertical glazing and laminated glass beams.

While free from any framing, the wall and roof glazing are exceptionally strong and able to withstand challenging design loads from high winds or snow fall on the roof.

Additional features used in the roof glazing is the incorporation of a toughened laminate inner pane enhancing the structural performance and safety of the glazing and the use of a screen print dot matrix pattern which improves environmental performance with limited impact on the quality of light entering the atrium.