Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Spotlight on Innovation: What is Switchable Glass?


Switchable Glass is glass that can be turned from transparent to opaque at the flick of a switch. A company called Taliq founded in 1986 invented, patented and commercialised polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) window film technology. In 1988 this company changed its name to Citala Ltd. The company was founded by Ronen Lin in Tel Aviv. Ronen remains very much involved and is currently Chief Executive Officer and President. Citala Ltd is private company, headquartered in Israel with R&D and manufacturing in Sunnyvale, California and employs approximately 20 people. The company sells its products directly in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Far East. Many companies around the world now produce switchable glass products.

How does Switchable Glass Work?

 Photo credit: Citala Ltd

In polymer dispersed liquid crystal devices (PDLCs), liquid crystals are dissolved or dispersed into a liquid polymer followed by solidification or curing of the polymer. Typically, the liquid mix of polymer and liquid crystals is placed between two layers of glass or plastic that include a thin layer of a transparent, conductive material followed by curing of the polymer, thereby forming the basic sandwich structure of the smart window. The smart window is then connected to electrodes and when a voltage is applied the window will change from opaque to transparent. The smart windows can also be created via other technologies – specifically Suspended Particle devices (SPDs), Electrochromic devices and Micro-blinds instead of PDLCs.

What are the Benefits of Switchable Glass?

- The benefits of switchable glass are as follows:

- Privacy control at the flick of a switch

- Smart glass can create climate adaptive building shells that can reduce costs for heating, air-conditioning and lighting

- No need for install and maintain light screens, curtains or blinds

- Smart glass blocks ultraviolet light (in most cases) and reduces fabric fading

How does this relate to the Vertical Transportation Industry?

Switchable glass can he applied to lifts, escalators or inclinators.  Technological advancements including self adhesive Smart Window Film means that it has become more affordable for both commercial and residential usage. Practical applications are for glass cars where a counterweight is passing at high speed or where passing through a dead zone or when travelling into the basement areas, again with glass cars.

Where has Switchable Glass be used?

Switchable glass has been used in the automotive, aircraft, marine and architectural industries. In architecture switchable glass technology has been applied to windows, skylights, doors and partitions.

Dunbar and Boardman keep a watching brief on technological advances within the vertical transportation industry to better serve our clients. Dunbar and Boardman is the lift, escalator and access equipment consultancy.

Do you have a current or planned project that would benefit from using Switchable Glass? We would be happy to discuss any such requirements and how we may be able to assist. Give us a call on T +44 (0) 20 7739 5093 or send us an email via peterboardman@dunbarboardman.com to start the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

What was the biggest challenge with the Sowwah Square project in Abu Dhabi?

Sowwah Square, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Image credit: Viskotech 

Sowwah Square is the name of a recently constructed district in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The district is located in the centre of the island Sowwah, northeast of the current city centre of Abu Dhabi. This island is now known as Al Maryah Island. The Sowwah Square project, included four high-rise office towers (150 metres height) and also features the iconic new headquarters building (53 metres height) for the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The High Rise Towers are named Sowwah Square Tower 1, Tower 2, Tower 3 and Tower 4. Now that the area’s development is completed Sowwah Square comprises of 450,000 sqm office, retail and hotel space. Construction for Sowwah Square commenced in the summer of 2007 and completed in 2012.

What was the biggest project challenge?

When Dunbar and Boardman were commissioned to work on the project by Mubadala – Oger and the architects, Goettsch Partners we identified that the biggest challenge would be to hide the 10 Building Maintenance Units (BMU) necessary for the buildings. This was particularly challenging because of the lower parking area.  Additional challenges were presented by the restraint spacing for the towers’ adjustable cradles and the shutter door requirement over the Stock Exchange (low rise) building BMU.

What was the solution?

Dunbar and Boardman worked with XSPlatforms based in the Netherlands to deliver Façade Access and Maintenance (BMU) services that included the following stages:

Facade Access Concept Design Review
Facade Access Specifications Review
Tender Review and Analysis
Technical and Material Submittal Reviews
Shop drawings Reviews
Installation Reviews
Post  Construction Reviews

The technical solution comprised of ten fixed and movable telescopic roof cars supplied by XSPlatforms, Netherlands. The vertical telescopic machine base (for out-of-sight parking), 30-metre jib outreach, luffable jibs and telescopic cradles make this project special. For the headquarters building, there are two traversing telescopic roof cars with a reach of up to 38 metres.  All ten telescopic machines are provided with glass replacement units for lifting weights of up to 650 kg. Also, there are approximately 700 metres of monorail, including self hoisting suspended cradles and special trolleys, turntables to cover the internal side areas and the underside ceiling of the headquarters building.

What were the results?

BMU are performing efficiently and contributing to the positive impact the project has had as part of the urban framework plan, entitled Plan Abu Dhabi 2030.

Are you currently planning a project that will involve Façade Access and Maintenance? We would be happy to discuss with you. Give us a call on T +44 (0)20 7739 5093 or send us an email via peterboardman@dunbarboardman.com to start the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.