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'Divine' glass partitioning for St Mary's Church

'Divine' glass partitioning for St Mary's Church

St Mary’s Witnesham appointed Stowmarket Glass and Bohle to install new frameless glazing between the original stone arches of the church.

“We were approached completely independently of any family connections or ties to St Mary’s by the main contractor and architect, who couldn’t find anyone to do the work”, explains Luke Browes from Stowmarket Glass. It was pure coincidence that it was the church that we got married in and it was just down the road from where I grew up. Regardless of the personal connection, it was such an exciting project, which we jumped at the opportunity to be a part of.”

The new frameless glass partition will be used to create a new community space for meetings, chapel, and crèche.

“As a Grade I Listed Building a key element of the brief was not to interrupt the sightlines of the spaces within the Church and as far as possible, without impacting on the original architecture. This meant that the architect had specified that the partitioning shouldn’t use a framework”, Luke explained.

“The proposal was to set the partitioning between four six-metre high arches. Given that each of these was a slightly different dimension, created a series of distinct challenges, both in planning and manufacture.”

Stowmarket Glass completed a ‘dry-run’, templating each arch in MDF, and once signed-off, the outline was then transferred to low iron 12mm toughened glass and cut out.

“You’re dealing with not only irregular shapes but the undulations in the stonework, so it was a very challenging job and something which could only really be cut out by hand”, said Luke.

“This also meant that the arches couldn’t be machine polished. To get around this we used a hand-held polisher from Bohle which gave us the flexibility to follow the very detailed outlines.”

Challenges included the protection of the original fabric of the building to working at height. “We used scaffolding and a Bohle suction-lifters and the LiftMaster B1 to help position the glass, taking care all of the time not to damage it or the building itself. Working at up to 6m high was challenging”, added Luke.

They used Bohles Veribor pump-action Seaming Tool to successfully align, join, and set a defined gap between the individual panels making up the ecclesiastical installation.

With a maximum horizontal clamping force of up to 1,200N, the system combines a high level of safety, with the capacity to join heavy sheet materials with millimetre accuracy.

The partition itself was assembled using Bohle Patch Fittings, connecting each 12mm sheet at each corner, combined with dry glazing jointing strips.

“If we’d been wet glazing it using silicone it would have been far more complex and far messier. You just lay the glazing strips along the edge of the glass to create the joint and fix with the patch fittings at the corner. It’s mega clean”, continued Luke.

“This also helped us in meeting one of the key elements of the brief. With the low iron glass, this was to create an ultra-clear installation, which would allow visitors to look up from the ground at the arches and architecture above without interruption.”

Also used was the Self-closing Corner Fitting from Bohle. It provides access between the newly created room and the nave. This replaces the conventional floor springs used in traditional internal swing-door self-closing systems with a cutting-edge hydraulic option. It also simplifies installation as it can be fitted in as little as 45-minutes without being recessed, and uses just four screws to achieve a fixing to the floor.

This delivers a significant amount of time saved onsite when compared to traditional installation techniques, including time lost for cement to cure. Also featuring simple and easy zero positioning of cover plates, the double action ‘push/pull’ system opens to 90° and features fully adjustable closing speeds.

The installation also used Bohle’s range of clamps to secure the installation to stonework.

“This is very much where we see ourselves as a business”, continued Luke. “We’re undertaking more and more specialist work.

“This includes commercial work but also high-end domestic installations, from balustrading, stair cases, shower screens – projects where the off-the-shelf solution simply doesn’t exist and where the end user is motivated by design and quality”, says Luke.

“We use Bohle hardware as part of that offer because it gives us the flexibility we need in design but also the adjustability to deliver that very high-end finish that our clients are looking for.”

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The Bohle Group, established in 1923, is Europe's leading manufacturer and supplier of tools, machines and accessories, hardware, fixtures and fittings for glass processing and finishing. Many of Bohle’s products are manufactured at the...
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