Glass Fittings for Transparent Architecture

The Role of Glass Fittings

K Krubha Karan
There has been no dearth of discussion of how glass has become an imperative part of our lives via the architectural and construction field. Its various functions, whether aesthetic or structural has always been much written about. Architect K. Krubha Karan, Principal Architect and Partner of Bengaluru based architectural firm (The Design Firm) rightly admits, that one important consequence of the increased use of glass in buildings is a more changeable and capricious internal environment.
Glass Fittings for Transparent Architecture






The Design firm has made use of fishplates fixtures both in the floor and the ceiling for the toughened and frosted glass in the interiors of Tachyon Technologies Office, Bengaluru. (Picture Courtesy: The Design Firm)


With the superlative role of glass in the architectural and construction fraternity, today a number of fittings and accessories for glass find their way in residential and commercial projects. Right from fittings like lever locks and handles, glass adapters and clamps for glass doors, to fittings for windows, canopies, facades, balustrade, sanitary fittings; the age of transparency has ameliorated the demand and need for glass fixtures. These fittings help in conveying the right feel of the glass and letting it make a statement.




T Lakshman
T Lakshman
Alok Aggarwal
Alok Aggarwal
Fuso Glass India Pvt Ltd has been a leading processor of glass products in India. Their building product division which deals with GCC Hardware in India is called FABS. T Lakshman, VP of sales and marketing, of FABS feels that the role of Glass fittings is ever expanding as applications of glass. He adds that the complete stability of the whole system including glass depends on the fittings, their design, load bearing capacity and surely quality. Alok Aggarwal, the Managing Director of Ozone, well-known as the leaders in Indian Glass fittings adds, "Glass and Glass Fittings go hand in hand since suitable glass hardware is required to bring out the transparency in glass. Tempered glass cannot be used without suitable glass fittings to hold it."

Types of Fittings and Selection Criteria for Different Applications

Raghunandan S.K

Raghunandan S.K, Senior Manager Sales of Dorma India Pvt Ltd which is into manufacturing of patch fittings for glass, sliding systems, glass folding partitions feels, that in order to use various types, forms and size of glass, quality branded glass fittings are important. Glass as we all know is a fragile material hence the consistent performance and low maintenance features of fittings is important. Raghunandan further adds, “The most important selection criteria for selecting glass fittings when using glass for the exteriors are elements like wind, pressure, rain etc while for the interiors the governing factors are safety, security and aesthetics."

Glass Fittings for Transparent Architecture


Lakshman feels that though there are many brands distributing hardware in India but a majority of these products are imported from China under their local names. Surprisingly, few MNC companies have also been following the strategy to compete with the low cost products. The customers have also understood this fact as the products have the manufacturer's logo/ branding only on the cover plates and once opened; they all look and perform the same - especially with patch fittings. In the long run, these products need to be replaced much sooner than their expected service lifetime. With GCC, FUSO's primary motive is to provide low maintenance & high quality products that would last for long term.

LOOP clamps at Dorma need no drilling or machining of the glass and save both time and money during installation. (Picture Courtesy: Dorma India Pvt Ltd)

Fittings for Glass Doors

Pradeep Kainya, owner of Mumbai based PAG International Pvt Ltd, well known for its architectural fittings believes, "Each floor may have different pressure levels for door holding, opening and closing. An apt hardware fitting takes into consideration all these minute details and gives the perfect outcome."

For architectural fittings for glass doors, high quality and total design flexibility are essential for ease of installation, safety and functionality as Lakshman adds. Glass door fittings include glass door handle accessories, fittings for sliding door systems, automatic folding and swing doors.

Dominic Dube
Bengaluru based architects Dominic Dube and Fabian Ostner are working on a proposal they have made for the 'Grand Egyptian Museum' in Cairo, Egypt. Intending to use patch fittings to hold together the glass screen which goes upto 40 floors height in the façade, Dube adds, "To cover and hold such a large area of glass (120m x 120 m), patch fittings were the only possibility since we wanted this glass screen to be separate from the main facade of the building. The patch fitting allows us to come at a certain distance from the main facade and give an overall feeling of being suspended in the air since there are no members visible other than the patch fittings. In our case, this floating effect was of a prime importance since the concept was related to a sail boat."

Dwelling on Patch Fittings Raghunandan informs that if a Patch Fitting Hardware is to be used on a frameless glass swing door, they should have high quality gaskets to hold the glass in a long run and the outer cover should be in SS316 grade to overcome corrosion. In case of an automatic door on a glazing, one should note the clear opening size required and weight of each sliding shutter. The operator should be selected on the basis of the weight of the shutter, clear opening and location of the operator (whether external or internal).

Grand Egyptian Museum Cairo
The proposal for Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo which uses Patch Fittings. (Picture courtesy: Architect Dominic Dube)

Frameless facades are much in demand in living rooms, office doors, bathroom doors etc in which spider fittings are important. A lot of architects today find frameless facades superior to curtain walling or framed glass walls. In the case of spider fittings, the glass is supported using bolted fixtures directly connected to the glass. Also, when the need is of interior frameless glass doors, a pair of hinges is easier and more economical. Frameless glass fittings are also required for screen and canopies and also glass pivot doors which are very popular with shops, restaurants and offices.

Krubha Karan feels that the usage of glass hardware is not limited and it is how much the designer is willing to experiment. He adds, "There are some handsome door handles that are made of crystal clear material that provide a smooth frame with which to turn the handle. They are made in a compact form to enable the user to slide them when opening or closing the door. These can either be long or short."

Floor springs & Door closers catering to different weight capacities are available to suit and adjust as per the door weight and the door opening pressure. Selection of the floor springs should be based on weight and width of the shutter.

Glass Clamps

Glass Clamps
GCC Heavy Duty Sliding – Parking Wall System – Shop Front Glazings
(Fuso glass india pvt. ltd.)
These innovative products can fit into the pane without the need of drilled fissures. They are also designed to align into the correct position on the delicate surface. The installation process of glass clamps is an easy one and it entails just inserting it in place and using a special key to bolt it tightly for permanent support. Available in a number of profiles, sizes, colours as well as finishes (stainless steel, satin, nickel finish and chrome polish) the users have a range of decorative options. Glass balustrade clamps with aesthetic designs are also available.

Shower Fittings

Present in various finishes these include shower handles, shower knobs, shower seals, shower U channels and sliding door systems. PAG International Pvt Ltd believes that glass fittings can prove to be innovative and quite useful for the imagination of the customer. Their designs for shower fittings include sleek, straight hardware fittings which cater to 25 different angles for the movement of the glass. These fittings are suitable for openable as well as sliding glass doors.

Glass wire and Rod fittings have also become popular in trendy bathrooms. These are available in various designs, combinations which can be in different angles and shapes.

Furniture Fittings

Lever Hinges
GCC – Lever Hinges Door Glass System for Metal or Wooden Frames. (Fuso glass india pvt. ltd.)
These include fittings like bracket self-holders, fittings for frameless wire shelving system, glass holders, board support, shelf supports, handles & hinges, cam locks, fittings for cabinets etc. These fittings score quite a hit with users due to their aesthetic designs, flawless finishes, availability in a variety of designs and finishes and blend of utility and aesthetics.

Advance Features, Quality Standard and Durability

Kainya asserts, "There are around three lakh projects and constructions being carried all over India where glass contributes in a huge way. For every piece of work to be praised there is a hardware fitting which supports it, keeping it balanced and making it look beautiful."

FABS distributes GCC brand of fittings which is a global brand with market presence across 50 countries. Their hardware range consists of regular patch fittings for tempered glass doors, shower partition systems, floor springs and door closers for doors, sleek design door hinges with design patents. The latest offering from GCC is the 'Sliding - Folding' movable walls system. GCC sliding & Folding Systems as well the "Sliding parking" system are designed as heavy duty systems that do not require any 'floor track', which makes them a good product for removable / movable room partitions. For residential & hotel projects there is the new "GCC SDT 120" shower partition system.

The sliding bathroom partition system is built with aluminium profiles that conceal the rollers and offers longer service life compared to conventional hinge shower enclosures. One key advantage is the ease of installation and presence of less fixtures on the wall. The SDT system is multifunctional and available as a kit with wall mounted as well as roof / ceiling mounted options. The GCC product range offers a range of products with valid performance test certifications, CE marking etc.

KLE Convention Centre
A view of the ongoing KLE Convention Centre at Belgaum by The Design Firm, where the spider fittings for the facade help in bringing transparency (Picture Courtesy: The Design Firm)

Ozone offers a wide range of glass fittings such as Point fixed fittings, Spider fittings for facades/glazing, Patch Fittings, glass clamps and handles for internal and external glass doors. The firm has introduced a large range of glass fittings which includes Sliding Glass Doors, suitable fittings for folding glass doors for movable partition in internal applications. Alok adds, "We have also introduced Digital and Biometric locks which will enable increased usage of tempered glass in internal and external applications. Further, a large range of fittings for shower enclosure with swing doors and sliding doors have been introduced."

Dorma India Pvt Ltd has six product divisions- 1) Door Control (Hinges, Locks, Door closers, Floor Springs etc) 2) Automatics (Automatic Sliding Doors ,Revolving Doors etc) 3)Glass Fittings (Patch Fittings, Agile Sliding Systems, Folding sliding wall etc) 4)Movable walls (Acoustic Movable partition like Variflex ,VariPlan and Moveo) 5)Dorma Entrance Systems (Spiders, Loop, Tension Tie Rod System etc) 6)Security Time & Access (Access Control system for Hotels and Commercial Projects). The recent innovations/products that the company has come up with include DORMA MAGNEO (Magnetic Levitation Technology Automatic Sliding Doors), DORMA PORTEO (Sleek Design Automatic Swing Door Operator suitable for wooden, metal, glass doors), DORMA MOVEO GLASS (Acoustic movable partition in glass with fully remote controlled venetian blind feature), DORMA LOOP (for double glazed exterior façade) and DORMA VISUR (fully concealed hardware system for glass swing door). For frameless glass swing doors they have products like Manet, Visur, Beyond and PT Std in which selection depends on application, aesthetics and budget. For shower cubicles with swing doors they have hardware like Norma, Hydra and S2000; for cubicles with sliding shutters there is the Aquarius sliding system.

Glass Fittings for Transparent Architecture
Door handles in various shapes, sizes, materials make a statement, as seen here in the Shyam Ahuja Retail Show Room Interiors designed by the Design Firm at Bengaluru (Picture Courtesy: The Design Firm)

PAG International Pvt Ltd has 78 varied shower cubicle fittings, Patch & Manet Fittings, Glass Door Locks and handles for sliding doors, double doors, main doors and furniture doors; glass door closing devices, glass sliding systems, Glass Manet & Sliding Fittings, Glass Wire & Rod Fittings, Glass Spider Fittings and Glass Furniture Fittings. The company also has many more categories with alternative designs and options in all categories to suit customer's demands.

Dorma inspite of their range have understood that the selection criteria will be difficult for Architects/PMC and end customers to overcome which, Dorma India is introducing a “Project Management Team“ who will work with architects and consultants in the design stage so that the right product is recommended for the right application.

Support

Glass fittings are used in critical structural & load bearing applications; hence their proper application/installation is essential.

Adds Alok, "From our experience of glass and glass hardware what is more important is pre-sales support. We provide knowledge and expertise related to use of appropriate fittings with appropriate glass. We also train people to use best practices.” In the case of FABS, most of the after sales support is in terms of assistance in autocad drawings, fixing details, availability of accessories etc. Dorma also extends after sale support through their centralised warehouse in Chennai and branch warehouses in all other major cities which ensures quick availability of materials on time, time service and replacement. Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta is an Architectural Journalist who can be contacted at apurvabose at yahoo dot com

MGS Architecture November-December 2010