Curtain Walling Through the Years: Then And Now

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Most people probably think that curtain walling is one of the hallmarks of modern society.

They connect the inside and outside of a building with its almost invisible and fully transparent barrier.

The occupants of a curtain walled structure bathe in natural light which, besides saving a lot of money on the electricity bill, has known health benefits on many levels.

Curtain walling has been made possible by architectural science, new technologies and building materials, right? Not so fast. The UK has a long history of curtain walling going as far back as 1864 to Liverpool where civil engineer Peter Ellis used curtain walling when he built Oriel Chambers and the building at 16 Cook Street, pioneering what has become a preferred way of creating people-friendly working environments today.

Peter Ellis invented a way to connect large glass frames to the steel mullions supporting the structure with asbestos and later fibre glass compound – sometimes even glazing tape. Even though it sounds shaky and in violation of today’s numerous health and safety codes, the fact of the matter is that his buildings still stand today.

Progress In Curtain Walling In The Modern Century.

Since the 1800s’, progress has made it a lot easier and safer to use curtain walling for large buildings. During the last century, tape and sealants were replaced by mullion. Steel has been replaced by aluminium, which is easily extruded into any shape or form while maintaining its structural strength. Today architectural science has created an almost unlimited list of options for curtain walling which has manifested itself in the high numbers of curtain walled buildings in most of the UK’s major cities today.

The benefits of curtain walling are numerous. Besides taking full advantage of natural light and thus saving a lot of money on the electricity bill, curtain walling creates a unique environment connecting the inside of a building with its outside surroundings. The purpose of curtain walling is mainly to keep out the elements with as little obstruction as possible. The inside and outside of a building almost becomes a whole with curtain walling basically just filtering out water, wind and air. Not only is there an abundance of natural light but it is also able to penetrate much deeper into a building.

Additional Benefits With Curtain Walling.

The transparency that comes with curtain walling makes the building a more integrated part of the environment. Apart from allowing the occupants of the building connect with the surroundings, curtain walling is also used to protect old buildings. Remodelling and re-cladding projects can use curtain walling to protect a buildings’ distinguishing features.

Curtain walling has changed the way we look at large buildings. Once they were ominous unwelcoming structures with people quickly and indifferently walking by on the outside and people inside suffering from limited natural light and claustrophobia. Today a building can be a part of its surroundings making it not only more energy efficient but also people friendly.

At SRL Ltd, we can supply complete aluminium curtain wall systems. We also provide professional glass cutting services. Call us today and let us discuss your project.


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