a glass extension to a listed building with timber posts that line up with the sightlines of the glass doors

What is Global Alignment in Architectural Glazing?

Global Alignment is a term used in architectural glazing design to describe the method of designing architectural glass within the context of the building. Very often the architects on a project will want the sightlines of the sliding glass doors or the junctions of a glass roof to line up with other elements within the build.  

 As these other elements are outside of the architectural glazing package, the architectural glazier has to adopt a global alignment method to ensure that, once designed, built and sent to site, these glazing installations line up with these constructed elements of the building.  

 Read on below for more examples of where Global Alignment is important or contact the team at IQ for further information.  

Global Alignment for Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors have vertical junctions with the minimally framed panes of glass meet. Very often, these sightlines are required to line up with other elements of the build.  

 Sometimes, a glass roof is used above sliding glass doors to create a glass extension or glass ‘up and over’ design. For a successful and cohesive design you want the sightlines of the glass doors to line up with the junctions of the glass roof above. It is far easier to achieve this if both the glass roof and the sliding glass doors are sourced from the same architectural glazier. During the design phase of the architectural glazing package, the architectural glazier will then design these two separate elements with global alignment in mind, ensuring that the sightlines of the sliding glass doors will line up with the junctions or supports of the glass roof above.  

For example, this modern house renovation in Oxfordshire included an ‘up and over’ glass box design. The vertical sightlines of the slim sliding glass doors were designed to line up exactly with the structural glass roof returning. It is not as simple as making the glass the same width as the glass within the sliding doors is a different width due to the aluminium framing, locking elements and sliding configuration. The two architectural glazing elements were designed with global alignment to ensure that they would line up in theory as well as in practice.  

Global Alignment for Glazing Bars

When specifying a steel or steel look glazing system, there are very often horizontal glazing bars on the glass doors to create that traditional industrial design.  

 The horizontal bars – or glazing bars – can be designed specifically in context of the building design. Is there panelling inside? Do you want the glazing bars to be at the same height as the kitchen island? This is where global alignment with the glazing design is key.  

 There may be some limitations to the positioning of horizontal glazing bars around the locking box depending on the system. But all applied glazing bars are decorative and can be placed in locations as designed and specified by the principle designer.  

 For example, this modern rear extension in London utilised steel Mondrian doors to the rear for an industrial design. The ‘kick plate’ at the base of the doors was designed to line up exactly with the fixed concrete window seat to the left and the long concrete garden bench to the right. This was achieved through the global alignment of this horizontal line between the glazing and fixed garden elements.  

 A similar design was created at Netherford Road where the solid ‘kick plate’ of the steel doors line up with the window cill to the left.  

Lining Glass Door Sightlines and Posts

When you have large expanses of glazing within a structure, you still need some method to hold up the solid roof. Vertical posts across the elevation provide intermittent support across the glass elevation and are sometimes used by engineers or designers to assist with their structural design.  

Where you have vertical junctions of glass, a sightline is created wherever the two panes of glass meet – be that fixed or sliding glass. Global alignment is used to great success on these projects to ensure that the sightlines of the glass doors or wall line up with the posts.  

For example, this glass extension to a listed house in Salisbury was designed with a timber structure. The sightlines of the sliding glass doors were designed to line up with this timber structure. The result is a cohesive glass extension design that maximises its glass elevations and views across the landscaped garden.  

Global Alignment for Architectural Glazing in Practice

Global alignment across various items and the project should be co-ordinated to avoid sight lines jumping here there and everywhere.  

 Excellent communication is required between the architectural glazier and the Principle Designer in order for this to be successful. It is important that a principle designer is included within the project to ensure coordination between all different trades in terms of design.  

 Architectural glazing cannot be designed in isolation. It is important that the architectural glazier is aware of what is wanted to be achieved on site as well as the impact the glazing will have on the surrounding elements of the build.  

What Next?

If you have any questions about global alignment and ensuring it is applied to your architectural glazing package speak to the team at IQ.

We are able to listen to your specification requirements and provide bespoke solutions to match your requirements. Be that size, design or performance; all IQ systems can be expertly engineered to fit your design.

Visit the contact us page for all the ways you can get in touch.

Bifolding Doors
Rebecca Clayton
Technical Sales

Rebecca is the Communications Director at the IQ Group and has worked in glazing specification for many years. She has a broad range of technical knowledge about all our glazing products and offers technical advice and guidance to architects for specification. Her easy to digest technical advice is often quoted in magazines and publications. You might also recognise her as one of the IQ Glass CPD presenters.

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