Indian Design Industry

The presence of glass in the Indian Design Industry was primarily felt in the 1990's when its usage started progressing from a mere aesthetic/decorative material to a structural material aiding in flow of spaces, establishing transparency in architecture and making nature merge naturally into designs.

Indian Architecture

Today, many people associate 'contemporary architecture' with glass. If not a necessity, it has become a vital part of the Indian Architecture which of late has been experimenting with materials. Globally, India is counted amongst one of the largest consumers of glass in construction. Skyscrapers, Retail Architecture, Commercial Complexes, Airports – glass provides them a whole lot of new definitions. Having travelled the path from a 'fragile' material to a sturdy, stronger material it has also given the 'green trend' in buildings a backing in the form of its innovations like double glazed glass, thermal insulating glass and solar control glass. With the advent of treated glass the use of glass has been increasing manifolds. A vast potential for toughened glass is found in India. The face of Indian glass market has also revolutionized. From what started as simple glass trading has now given way to firms involved with art glass processing, manufacturing of various products like tempered glass, double glazed glass etc.

Rajiv Milkha Singh
Glass truly has become symbolic of communication and openness in architecture today. Combining technological advantages with glass, designers have plunged forward to experiment with its various facets. The growth is also attributed to the contribution from the fittings manufactured by the hardware industry which have complimented the functional advantages of glass. Rajiv Milkha Singh, Regional Manager Distribution of the Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu believes that glass has no replacement and with safety features added to it, the future definitely rests with Glass.

Anil Dhingra
Anil Dhingra, National head (S&M), Sezal Glass Ltd, one of the leading glass processing companies and manufacturers of float glass in India stresses, "India today is still one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Industrial growth numbers for the last two quarters indicated that our building material Industry has come out of the distressed state. With the economy showing signs of revival, demand for flat glass will once again be back in double digits."

Type of Glasses

Raghunandan SK
Raghunandan S.K, Senior Manager, Sales, Dorma India Pvt Ltd which is into manufacturing of patch fittings for glass, sliding systems, glass folding partitions avers, that compared to buildings designed in the late 90's the past four years have seen an amelioration in the usage of glass by almost 60%. He attributes this to the aesthetic quality, easy maintenance and the capability of glass to maintain the glory of a building for years. He adds, "Glass takes less space, is easy to install and takes less time to complete the job as compared to conventional gypsum partitions and civil structures." R.K Chouhan, Director of Fuso Glass India Pvt Ltd, a leading processor of glass products in India feels that Nano coating technology developments have opened new avenues with applications that require self-cleaning and anti reflective properties.

As much as glass has found itself on exterior surfaces, it has also revealed its multi functionality in interiors too – from staircases, shower cubicles, skylights, floors, partitions; its flexibility helps designers to play with its shapes and forms. The various kind of glasses are as follows: Clear Sheet Glass, Toughened (Tempered) glass, Laminated Glass (safety glass), Polished plate glass, Wired Glass, Smoked glass, Ground Glass, Reflective Glass, Insulating Glass, Tinted Glass, Foam Glass, Fiber Glass etc.

It is not only the simple use of glass which is creating wonders but also in interiors, a creative organization of broken glass can prove appealing. Ceramic printed glass, glass blocks, glass bricks, frosted, and acid treated glass are also used innovatively in interiors.

Reflective GlassThe reflective glass at K Raheja Building in Mumbai helps in low emissivity with solar control, high visible light transmittance and glare control. (Pic courtesy: Glass India Limited).
Today, there is a great demand of safety glasses. Glass facades - whether curtain walling, bolted glazing, spider glazing or point fixed glass facades are being preferred by a lot of architects. Glass besides getting in natural daylight can make a space look larger. Its recyclable nature, durability, noise control, resistance to corrosion, low maintenance, acoustical comforts (with double glazed glass facades),its use on the exterior of the buildings vis-à-vis an artificial skin to impart an aesthetic and contemporary look to the building are its other benefits. With the advent of self-cleaning glass one now sees the production and application of microscopic coatings on glass which can make the required changes to its natural properties. Thin curtain glazing also opens up extra floor space. Glass reduces the weight on the foundation and imparts a light look to a building; it is weatherproof and biodegradable. Since it's made of sand, it is environment-friendly and doesn't deteriorate over time. High performance glass can control the thermal heat in the interiors also. Chouhan adds that glass facades can further be made more appealing when combined with the secondary processing capabilities like ceramic screen prints, PVB laminated interlayers which offer architects more design options compared to coated / tinted flat glass panels.

However, if glass is used in its annealed state without toughening, it can hurt anyone when broken; there is also shortage of skilled manpower in handling glass as compared to other materials. In this regard, the Saint-Gobain Glass Academy launched by Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd scores a high since it helps in disseminating information, technology and training in safe and efficient use of glass in construction. Glass doesn't only get in light but a lot of heat which can increase the air conditioning costs; hence its use as per the orientation of the building becomes important.

Toughened Laminated GlassToughened Laminated Glass due to its additional safety is a hit with shop fronts as seen in the South City Mall in Kolkata (Pic courtesy: Dorma India Pvt. Ltd.)

Samir Kapur
Samir Kapur, Marketing Manager, Pilkington Glass India Limited adds, "With Indians becoming increasingly aware of increasing costs on account of bad energy management, newer buildings have a higher percentage of glass on their facades. With technically superior glass that aids in energy management and leads to direct savings in terms of energy bills, the demand for glass as a building material can only go up. The availability of various types of glass in numerous color options helps it fit into any architects vision for any of his/her new projects."

"India is a unique country with different geographical and climate zones, so there cannot be any standard products or performance criteria as in European markets. In these conditions, the role of processors becomes very crucial to deliver value added products for customized solutions", adds Chouhan. The performance eventually as Chouhan mentions of any high performance coated product depends on the processing quality. Talking about new products he adds," One of our new product integrates solar shading systems into the standard IGU – this concept will serve as a breakthrough to combine Solar heat & Glare control properties and will offer dynamic features that can be controlled just by touching a button. Today, the architecture trends have been moving more towards higher transparency & low reflection, neutral looking glasses. The trends noticed are the ability to convert flat glass to shapes that allows 'free form' surfaces with geometric complexity and the possibility" of integrating other elements like metal screens, LED's, Photovoltaics etc into conventional flat glass."

Laminated Glass

Products in the Market

There is no dearth to the varieties of glass that is found in India. However Chouhan adds, "The façade glazing industry in general is still not driven by any mandatory regulations or standards. On one hand we have witnessed the rising demand for High performance glass and on the other hand there is a very large scattered market which has to be convinced to go for Heat treated glass. This segment uses glass as a mere cosmetic finish to buildings but generally ignores or rather compromises on other performance & safety characteristics."

At Saint-Gobain Glass India, the product range has been designed and tailor made for Indian climate. For exteriors, there is Sunban which is a high performance glass where both light and solar factor can be optimized. The building façade in this case is under the exterior which helps in making it more energy efficient and gaining in more light and less of heat transmission. In present buildings where the window to wall ratio is more, it helps in cutting the cooling costs. For Interiors, there is Miralite evolution which has diversified usage. Amongst the recent innovations, there is Planilaque, an eco-friendly lacquered glass available in nine shades and can be used in high humid areas like bathrooms & wall panelling. There is Diamant Mirror which is a mirror on extra clear glass and is a new trend for a clear reflection. The clearer the glass, lesser is the light absorption and hence better is the reflection. Apart from these, there is bio self-cleaning glass and fire safety glass.

Curtain Wall Glass Facade

Adds Raghunandan, Dorma India "Most of our products are made from Stainless Steel Grade 316/304 and aluminium extrusions which are anticorrosive and suitable for exterior and interior applications. Our Products are durable and maintenance free during operation." 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). They are soon going to come up with Home range of products too.

At Sezal Glass Ltd, the Fresca range of glass is the most impressive and scientifically advanced, offering solar control low-E properties with excellent day Lighting and very low heat insulation. There is also Kool Glass eco series of high performance insulating glass with excellent spectral selection, energy saving potential, aesthetic flexibility and appeal. The high performance series of coated glass in Eco has a multi functional coating with multilayer stack to meet the desired spectral performance criteria. It is available in a variety of colors and offers excellent properties with a combination of solar control, optimum light transmission/reflection and thermal insulation. The firm has also forged a marketing alliance with Dupont to bring out "Armor Plus", a laminated glass with Sentryplus of Dupont as an interlayer. Armor Plus is a superior version of laminated glass with PVB as an interlayer making it even more safe, strong, durable & storm resistant. This glass can be configured with coated / uncoated, annealed / toughened / heat strengthened glass to get value addition in performance and can be used in skylights, facades, floors, staircases, shop fronts, hurricane rated systems, high security areas etc.

Coated Glass

Pilkington, recognized as the world's technological leader in glass has a lot of innovative products like Pilkington Pyroshield&tra de;, Pilkington Pyrostop™, Pilkington Reflite™, Pilkington Solar E™ Solar Control Low-E Glass, Pilkington Eclipse Advantage™ Reflective Low-E Glass, Pilkington OptiView™ Anti-Reflective Glass, Pilkington Optifloat™ Clear Glass, Pilkington Mirropane E.P™ Transparent Mirror etc.

Citing their recent innovation Samir says, "Pilkington Activ is a self-cleaning glass which reduces cleaning and maintenance costs and gives a better appearance for longer duration. Best suited for situations where cleaning is difficult (like a highrise, or roof lights), or where good visibility is important (like a stadium), this mechanism continues to work even on cloudy days and during the night. The unique coating it has cannot wear away or be rubbed off and lasts the entire lifetime of the glazing. This coating breaks down and loosens everything, even heavy soiling (using daylight and rainwater), which is then easily cleaned away by the rain, or simply by hosing during dry spells.

Fuso Glass India Pvt Ltd has also entered into the Cladding & Entrance solutions business through its new division "FABS" to offer revolving doors & special entrance solutions that are considered the most energy saving solutions to any building, by reducing the draft caused by conventional automatic sliding doors. FUSO through its building product division – FABS – also offers solid metal cladding systems in Aluminium. These products offer better aesthetic finish than conventional Aluminium Composite Panels.

The Future With Glass

Many a times debates have cropped up on the validity of glass in a tropical climate like India, but then solutions have been devised by using high performance solar 'control' coatings, or by intelligently using glass and giving it a good shade. Glass, if used without a purpose and out of context can lead to poor architecture. Chouhan affirms, "The solution lies in regulations with regard to usage of safety glazing with tempered & laminated glasses which is presently limited to only few large cities in India. The higher per capita consumption of glass in global markets when compared to India is due to the façade and window glazing which are driven by regulations and standards in place which benefit the end-user in terms of safety as well as energy performances. Presently, the phrase "High performance" is blindly associated with the solar & thermal performance of the glazing – but we are sure that gradually the Industry will start relating this term to all the other criteria of choosing glass for varied applications. Glass in combination with Photovoltaic technology can offer futuristic façades – that can eventually produce energy for the buildings they are glazed with."

Window GlazingThe use of Glass makes a building look aesthetically pleasing and lighter on the eyes. (Pic courtesy: Pilkington Glass India Limited.)

Dhingra affirms that ever since float glass got manufactured in India in 1993, glass consumption in India has gone up by six times but he admits that even today the consumption is only 0.95kg per capita per annum, which is very low compared to other Asian countries (5kgs in Indonesia, 6kgs in Thailand, 11kgs in China, 26 kgs in Japan). Average glass consumption for the whole world is around 6 kgs per capita per annum. He adds, "We have recently signed a JV with CGI International of UK for supplying fire rated glass product that is branded as 'Pyroguard' in India. This will capture India's growing market of fire rated products by standardizing and regularizing fire rated glass in Indian projects."

Talking about future trends Chouhan believes that it will surely change towards more "Active" glazing – Glass as a more functional element integrated with other technologies and building automation systems. Some relevant examples are switchable glazing, Glass with LED interlayers etc. Apart from these requirements, Glass with passive fire protection performance will also find new applications to match with the visual feel of transparent interiors.

Events In India

Watch out for the new innovations in glass at The CERAGLASS INDIA 2010 (being organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – Northern Region in association with Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO), Govt. of Rajasthan and Indian Ceramic Society) at Jaipur from the 11th-14th of November which promises to showcase the best in the glass and allied products industry in India and abroad.

GLASSPEXINDIA 2011 going to take place in Mumbai in Jan 2011 will be covering all aspects of glass production and processing as well as display glass products and applications.

Pictures sourced by: Apurva Bose Dutta, Bangalore-based architect Apurva Bose Dutta is an Architectural Journalist.