Adhesive Solutions for Cast Glass Assemblies: Ground Rules Emerging from Built Case Studies on Adhesive Selection and Experimental Validation


  • Faidra Oikonomopoulou Delft University of Technology
  • Telesilla Bristogianni Delft University of Technology


Cast glass is a promising, three-dimensional expression of the material for architectural and structural applications, particularly for the creation of all-transparent, self-supporting structures and envelopes. Typically applied in the form of solid blocks, cast glass components can be used as repetitive units to comprise fully-transparent, cast glass masonry walls. To maximize transparency and ensure an even load distribution, the glass blocks are bonded together by a colourless adhesive. Currently, there is a lack of standardized structural specifications, strength data and building guidelines for such adhesively-bonded cast glass-block systems. As a result, any new application is accompanied by experimental testing to select the adhesive and certify the adhesively bonded system. Since the choice of adhesive is highly dependent on the prerequisites set for each case-study -such as the structural and visual performance, available budget, the structure’s geometry and climate conditions- the preselection of the most prominent adhesive family at an early project stage can prevent an excessive budget and construction complications. This paper, therefore, aims to shed light on the selection process of adhesives for cast glass assemblies by first providing an overview of the most suitable bonding media families for such systems; these include stiff adhesives, flexible adhesives and cement-based mortars. Following, the paper reviews the research & development process of the adhesively-bonded glass-block systems in three distinct built projects, in which the TU Delft team has been involved: The Crystal Houses façade (NL), the LightVault, a robotically assembled glass vault (UK) and the Qaammat pavilion in the arctic circle (GL). The adhesive requirements for each of the three case studies are discussed in terms of structural and visual performance and ease-of-assembly (constructability). These criteria are decisive in pointing out the most promising bonding media family per case-study. The final shortlist of adhesive candidates within that bonding media family is subject to the full list of performance criteria, but also to market availability. The shortlist of adhesive candidates are typically experimentally evaluated, first via application testing and then via strength tests in order to choose the most suitable candidate. Based on the above, the review concludes in proposing guidelines for the effective selection, design and experimental verification of adhesively-bonded cast glass assemblies.





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