Skip to content
Home » In the newsroom » Multi-functionality of fire safety glass – now that’s SMART!

Multi-functionality of fire safety glass – now that’s SMART!

According to the Oxford Dictionary, to be multi-functional is to have or fulfil several functions. But how does this apply to fire glass?

Blavatnik Exterior

Here, Andy Lake, UK Sales Director at Pyroguard, explores the multi-functional potential of fire safety glass and how it can help push the boundaries of architectural and interior design within our public buildings.

When discussing fire safety glass, it can be easy to think of it as a product with just one sole function. However, while its primary purpose is indeed to protect people, property and possessions in the unfortunate event of a fire, this can just be the start of a specification. In fact, with the correct technical guidance, it is possible for a glazing system to deliver both high levels of fire protection and so much more.

Manufactured by alternating layers of toughened glass with intumescent gel interlayers, it is these interlayers that deliver the protection, causing the fire safety glass to react in the event of a fire. Yet, through the careful and technical selection of additional specialist glass panes to be interchanged within the system – or, in the case of a double-glazed unit, the installation of a specialist counterpane – it is possible to achieve additional performance qualities.

So, how do its multi-functional capabilities apply in practice?

Acoustics

Within many of our country’s public buildings, creating open, light and contemporary spaces has become a common design trend, with glass at the heart of achieving this. At the same time, ensuring good levels of acoustic performance is also a priority. As a result, architects and specifiers can be increasingly demanding in terms of what they need from glazed systems, requiring a product that helps to reduce the transmission of sound, in addition to meeting the required fire safety regulations.

Schools are just one example, often featuring light and airy classrooms following research into the positive effect this can have on a child’s productivity levels. While replacing a solid wall with a glass partition will succeed in opening up the space and allowing more light into the room, this design choice does then require the specification of a glazing system that delivers fire protection and sound reduction properties.

Likewise, care homes, hospitals, offices and libraries are all further examples of applications that can demand this combination of fire safety and acoustic control, contributing to the creation of a safe, quiet and calm space – whether for the purposes of study and productivity or recovery and comfort.

Through the specification of laminated toughened fire safety glass and technical calculations around the number of glass layers used within a system, it can be carefully engineered to reduce the level of sound transmitted through, offering an enhanced acoustic performance.

Privacy

As previously alluded to, our country’s hospitals and medical centres can demand a multitude of properties from its building products and materials. While the use of glass can contribute to the creation of a light and contemporary interior space, it does raise issues around the matter of privacy.

However, just as fire safety glass can be engineered to deliver acoustic properties, so too can a system be specified that offers levels of privacy built-in. For example, it is possible for integrated blinds to be incorporated within the glazing system, or an additional glass pane with a mirror or obscure finish – or even a screen-printed glass pane – to be interchanged between the toughened glass layers.

Aesthetics

This idea of incorporating screen-printed glass within a glazed system can be taken further still, opening up additional design avenues. Already a popular building material amongst architects, through the use of coloured, etched or printed glass interlayers it is possible to push the boundaries and create additional unique design opportunities for interior spaces. From bringing colour and art into a building to creating an on-brand appearance, the possibilities are endless.

Solar control

With available building space in our towns and cities increasingly limited, often the only way to build is up. As such, high-rise buildings with glass facades are becoming a common sight on our cities’ skylines. However, while glass is perhaps a welcome alternative to the concrete tower blocks of the 1960’s, a glass building envelope does present some challenges – primarily, how to prevent it from acting as an over-sized greenhouse. By inserting a glass pane with a solar control coating within the larger glazed system this problem can be avoided, working to reflect the sun’s UV rays away from the building exterior. What’s more, this can also work the other way, helping to keep heat in during the winter months and preventing it from escaping through the glass – yet another example of the multi-functional qualities of fire safety glass.

Rather than limiting a specification to one sole function, it is clear that fire safety glass can instead open the doors to other design opportunities and performance capabilities. In many ways, its fire protection can be just the start of a specification, with its multi-functionality helping to push the boundaries of architectural and interior design within our public buildings. That said, it is important to retain a sense of balance. Of course, it stands to reason that the more you put into a glazing system and the more you try to get out of it, the thicker and heavier the overall system will be. It is here that liaising with an experienced manufacturer, such as Pyroguard’s advanced technical team, can be most beneficial, helping specifiers satisfy both the fire safety regulations and architectural design.

For further information on the multi-functionality of our fire safety glass click here

Further reading

Pyroguard unveils 2024 Technical brochure

Read more

Fire door insight from ‘the door guy’: a Q&A

Read more

Combine performance and aesthetics, with the help of our new Smokeguard brochure

Read more