A frameless glass link is an excellent way to provide a seamless, minimal and insulated connection between two different elements of a property. Structural glass links can be designed to be frameless and an almost invisible connection between two structures, minimising the visual impact of the connection and providing shelter and insulation.
What is a Glass Link?
Glass links usually consist of multiple panes of frameless structural glass that are expertly integrated together to create a clear, frameless link between spaces. Different fixing methods are available depending on your project requirements, with the possible option to chase all fixings into the stonework for a completely frameless look.
Single pane or insulated glass units can be used to construct a glass link. By using double or triple glazing, a thermally efficient installation can be made. Your chosen glazing company should be able to design and engineer the building connections, the glass to glass joints and all fixings for a sleek glass installation.
Glass links are often the preferred method of connection between a new element of a building and a listed building. The Cotswolds contemporary glazing renovation project is a good showcase of this. The building was actually an extension to a listed hunting cottage. The connection between the new extension and the original cottage was required to be frameless to satisfy the planners. IQ designed this using frameless structural glass with glass to glass joints.
Using a Glass Link to Connect an Extension to an Existing Building
Glass links are often used to create a connection between the old and the new, especially on home renovation and extension projects.
Frameless glass links can be used to connect a new extension to the existing property. By using glass to form this connection you can create a transparent interface between what is new and what is old. This is often a solution that is preferred by planning officials, especially on sensitive building projects.
Another advantage of using a glass link here is that the character of the existing building is maintained, and the original property can still be viewed through the glazing without interruption.
Shenfield Mill is a good example of this. A structural glass link was included in the extension design to minimally connect the very large and contemporary new extension to the existing mill building.
Using Glass as a Walkway
You can also use a glass link to connect two separate buildings. This method can be useful to create a sheltered walkway between two separate buildings. By using double or triple glazing you can also make this space insulated as well.
This standalone structure may require additional supports (such as glass beams and fins) to hold the freestanding structure upright. This will be designed for each project depending on the span as it is not always required.
The Dress Box project featured a short glass walkway between the existing building and the new glass dressing room built into a central courtyard. The walkway had a glass roof with slim aluminium framed pivot doors either side which granted access to the small area around the dress box.
‘Up and Over’ Glass Links
An up and over glass link is exactly as it sounds; it is a frameless glass link which consists of a vertical pane of glass (up) meeting a roof element of glass (over). The connection between the two elements is completely frameless with a glass to glass connection.
These types of glass links are often used when the glass link also has a solid rear structure.
A good example of this is the glass link at Ansty Manor. This was a Grade II* listed 16th-century manor house that had a modern extension added. A glass ‘up and over’ link was included in the design to create a new walkway from the original stone cottage to the new extension. It connected the two spaces and was partially supported by a solid stone wall of the cottage.
Integrating Doors into Your Glass Link
Opening elements such as windows and doors can be integrated into the structural glass construction of the glass link. If you are considering a single glazed installation, then frameless opening doors can be integrated for a completely frameless finish.
The structural glass link at Edge House is a good example of a single glazed link with frameless doors integrated into it. The frameless glass doors required no surrounding frame or structure and sat seamlessly within the single glazed link structure.
If you are using framed and weather-sealed doors, then additional steelwork may be required within the glass link in order to form the openings that the framed doors can be installed into.
Effingham is a good example project for this. The glass link was created using structural glazing and a Vitra Pivot on both sides of the link. As the Vitra Pivot has a frame it required something to fix the frame to at the head. Here we used a slim steel support to fix the door to and to support the structural glass that was above.
Supporting the Roof of a Glass Link
The glass roof of a glazed link is a structural glass roof design, just slightly tweaked to allow it to be used as part of a glass link structure. As such, the technical details of the roof of a link are very similar to that of a normal structural glass roof.
If the roof of a glazed link is made of multiple panes you may require internal supports below the structural silicone joints (between each glass unit). As a rule of thumb, you will need internal supports if the joints are over 1.3m.
These internal structural supports of the roof can be made using a range of materials, depending on the design of the structure.
The Green Barn project is a good example of a glass link with a large glass roof supported by steel sections. The frameless glass link was installed to merge the old traditional cottage with the new conservatory.
Glass Links with Solid Roofs
If it is preferred, you can include solid built elements into your glass link design such as a solid roof. The solid roof structure will be built by your builder or contractor on the project with the glazier designing the glass to go into the openings.
A solid roof to the glass link might be useful to reduce solar radiation entering the glass link or if there are overlooking properties and you wish to maintain privacy in the link space.
A good project example of this is the glass link at Fairstead. The new garden room was connected to the existing building via a glass link. The link had a solid roof structure with frameless glass walls and frameless glass doors installed beneath it to form the walls of the glass link.
Good Example Projects
Effingham – double height glass link with structural glazing and opening Vitra Pivots at the base
Green Barn – structural glass link with steel sections support
The Dress Box – a short glass walkway between new glass box and existing building
Ansty Manor – an ‘up and over’ glass link between listed house and new extension
Fairstead – a single glazed link between garden room and house
Edge House – a single glazed walkway between two buildings
If you are looking to include your own glass link on a project, get in touch with the team at IQ who will be happy to help. Our technical advisors can assist with specification enquiries, costing and design advice to maximise your project’s potential. Visit the Contact Us page to find out all the ways in which you can get in touch with the team.