Three-storey structural glass cube

Pilkington UK has helped to create a three-storey structural glass cube as part of a makeover and extension at Aldi’s UK headquarters.

Aldi’s £70 million investment in the site has added new architectural features to the building’s exterior and created 14,000m2 of new space. Pilkington, working with Stoas Architects and Bennett Architectural, delivered the ‘glass cube’ and an external glazed canopy to form the entrance of the building.

The installation creates a welcoming environment for the building’s visitors. It features highly transparent glass with a solar control coating, which reduces the amount of the sun’s energy that is able to enter the building. This helps to avoid excessive heat build-up in the space and helps to reduce the need for air conditioning during warm weather.

Phil Savage, head of sales (UK Processing) at Pilkington, said: “The Pilkington Planar structural glazing system used to create the glass cube has been refined and improved over many years to arrive at the highly evolved design we have today. Used in this project, it offers uninterrupted views for visitors from inside Aldi’s HQ outwards.”

Corporate property director Mike Clarke at Aldi said: “The architecture of any building plays a key part in making it a great place to work or visit. The installation supported by Pilkington has helped to deliver modern design features to our HQ, to create a workspace that our colleagues are really proud of.”

To create the appearance of unsupported, almost entirely transparent glass surfaces for the walls and roof, the designer specified the Pilkington Planar structural glazing system, featuring frameless double-glazed units bolted to a supporting steel frame.

Chris Bravington, director at Stoas Architects, said: “Normally, a 6m-wide glass roof would need a central supporting steel beam, but the engineering team at Pilkington worked with us to design a solution that used long laminated glass beams spanning the space in six places to deliver the right amount of support.

“As a result, standing on the floating walkway on the upper level of the cube and looking up, the view of the sky is completely uninterrupted by steel beams, and you see only the transparent glass beams. The effect is a sense of being outdoors while inside, and it’s a feature that really sets the building apart.”

Laminated glass is used extensively in the project in both the roof fins and the roof glazing. The roof fins consist of two sheets of 12mm-thick glass with a 1.52mm SentryGlas interlayer while the cube roof glazing features laminated glass as part of the double-glazed units.

The glass used in the project was heat soaked to assure the client of the quality of the glass, and to minimise the risk of breakages once installed.

While the roof fins are single span of glass, the height of the cube meant two sections were needed, and these are joined together by stainless steel spice plates. The fins themselves are then bolted into the main structure of the building using fin boxes, all of which are part of the extensive range of engineered components that make up the Pilkington Planar system.

Research from the Centre for economics and business research (Cebr) showed that the value of Aldi’s relationships with UK suppliers will increase by £2.2 billion to £6.7 billion in 2022. Additionally, in 2016 Aldi supported 146,000 direct and indirect jobs in the UK and this figure is set to rise to 205,000 by 2022.