Comprehensive use of structural glass provides the overwhelming benefit of minimal impact, both physically and visually, on the existing structure of the building. Designing with glass allows you to modernise the building without damaging centuries-old architecture.
We asked Peter Hazeldean, MD of heritage specialist Ion Glass, to share his top five tips for merging modern aesthetics with a heritage building.
1. Use a glass linkway to connect a heritage building to a modern extension
Structural glass is the optimum solution to link buildings of different construction, accommodating the shifts and nuances between current building techniques and those of our predecessors. With minimal footings required, a glass linkway creates the necessary physical and visual division between the two structures and is often the stated preferred option by heritage and conservation bodies.
2. Maximise space without restricting light flow
Many heritage buildings have a modest footprint, but high ceilings provide plenty of unused space within the interior. Creating a mezzanine floor is an obvious solution if you need to increase space, but you’ll need to ensure that this doesn’t make the interior feel dark and oppressive. Incorporating structural glass into the designs will maximise the use of natural light. Think glass balustrades and consider a fully frameless option that will offer minimal interference with either light flow or aesthetics.
3. Be mindful of corbels, uneven floors and carved wood
It’s wholly possible to fit glass closely around heritage features, but the process involves accurate computer-aided measurements, detailed drawings, careful manufacture and experienced installers. It is worth engaging an experienced heritage glass specialist to ensure a flawless fit and avoid unsightly gaps.
4. Glass doors are visually welcoming
Heavy wooden doors can be intimidating – replacing them with glass lets more light into the building, maintains heat and most importantly creates a more welcoming entrance for visitors. Consider either an inner glass porch with the option to retain the original external wooden door or fully replacing the original door with a secure glass alternative. A heritage glass specialist will be able to advise as to whether a single or double door will be most appropriate, with or without the use of side panels, an over-panel or transom, especially if the original door is arched or an unusual shape or size.
5. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your design
Work with the existing building but don’t restrict your plans to replicating what has gone before. Whilst previous builders might have made use of natural materials such as stone and timber, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the only options when it comes to extending or renovating.