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Structural glass: A new remedial tool for the consolidation of historic structures

L. Baroua, F. Oikonomopouloub, T. Bristogiannia, F.A. Veerb, R. Nijssea

a Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands,
b Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

This research investigates the potential of glass as a new design tool to highlight and safeguard our historic structures. Current restoration and conservation treatments with traditional materials bear the risk of conjecture between the original and new elements, whereas the high consolidation demands often result in visually invasive and irreversible solutions. Nowadays, aspects of materiality and aesthetics appear as integral parts of the restoration practices, indicating new materials and technologies in the form of ambiguous gestures rather than absolute and permanent manifestations that prevail over the historic structures. The inherent transparent properties render glass a distinct material that enables the simultaneous perception of the monument in both its original and ruinous state. The emerging technologies have set the ground for using glass in a structural way minimizing the need for substructure and maximizing transparency, while protecting the sensitive historic materials. The paper explores the feasibility of this concept addressing aspects of structural compatibility, reversibility and aesthetics, through a review of realized examples. Finally, a methodology is developed to relate the glass products, available in the market today, to the possible consolidation treatments in respect to the degree of intervention and representativeness, stressing the potential of using and considering glass as a promising restorative material.

Key words: Structural glass, restoration, consolidation, materiality, transparency, reversibility, compatibility, aesthetics