Sapphire Balustrades assists smooth and speedy completion of iconic new library

Sapphire Balustrades assists smooth and speedy completion of iconic new library

A complex curved glass and oak balustrade requirement for the iconic new University of Aberdeen Library was solved by the expertise of Sapphire Balustrades and its versatile Crystal range.

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. 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.

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.”

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 fifty 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.

Sapphire Balustrades offers a comprehensive service and support package that covers every aspect of a balustrade project, starting with a review of the options available and material selection, right through to design, manufacture, installation, and a project follow up after completion. Specification assistance includes a newly developed range of RIBA-approved CPD presentations, plus a comprehensive library of CAD details and NBS information. After the initial aesthetic configuration stage specifiers can call upon Sapphire’s SES (Structural Evaluation System), a service which provides structural calculations and details for balustrades from the core systems and 'bespoke' variations required by clients.

Although visual appeal is obviously a key design priority a balustrade must also be fit for purpose, says Sapphire’s Marketing Manager, Nick Haughton. He comments: “Sapphire’s concept-to-completion support makes it easier to design an aesthetic, ergonomic and compliant balustrade for all kinds of environments particularly with large complex projects like this one. And with Sapphire’s assistance through the project pathway, balustrade projects can become much simpler especially with the reassurance of a unique 12 year warranty for added peace of mind.”

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.

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Sapphire Balustrades Ltd

Sapphire Balustrades Ltd

Sapphire is a leading designer and manufacturer of beautiful, high-quality, hard-wearing balustrades. Sapphire Systems was established in 1992, and is now trading as Sapphire Balustrades from four regional offices.Through consistent quality of...
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