Effi Wolff, Managing Director of Balcony Systems Ltd, outlines the challenge of installing high-tech curved glass doors into a home within the constraints of Conservation Area planning.
Delivering the ‘wow’ factor
The brief for housebuilder Princeton Homes was to build a high–spec timber-framed stone finish detached home using the latest eco-friendly technology and materials. The property, which is located in a conservation area, overlooks National Trust land in the picture-postcard village of Lacock, Wiltshire. Situated on top of a hill, it is visible for miles. The build had to be acceptable to planners while making the most of spectacular views and delivering the ‘wow’ factor to the client.
The solution: to build a traditional stone cottage with natural slate roof at the front and large futuristic curved glass bays at the rear, to take advantage of the 180° views over the Wiltshire countryside.
Mastering the challenge
Andrew Turner, Managing Director of Princeton Homes, turned initially to the internet and put his requirements to eight companies. Balcony Systems Ltd was the only company to respond, presumably because of the complexity of Andrew’s design. I was confident that working together we could master the challenge.
Once planning permission was granted for the concept design we sat down together to work out the exact specification. The design called for curved glass doors in the living room/kitchen and snug, with matching doors and Juliette balconies above in the master and second bedrooms. We agreed on two curved 10 metre and two curved 5.8 metre VisioGlide 100 glass doors, with two Juliette balconies for the bedrooms, all using our own Royal Chrome anodised aluminium handrails. The doors are 28mm double-glazed toughened Low-E glass, with a high weather rating (essential in this exposed location), and energy efficient in keeping with the eco-friendly ethos of the project. The living room/kitchen door has six curved panels, four sliding and two fixed, while each of the others has two sliding and two fixed curved panels. The master bedroom has a 2.74m curved Juliette balcony and the second bedroom a 2.00m Juliette, so the doors can be opened safely. Balcony’s system means there are no vertical posts or intrusive clamps in the Juliette balconies, leaving a clear expanse of glass from handrail to floor so there is nothing to interrupt the view. Although they are unobtrusive they have a permitted load factor of 0.74 kN/m uniformly distributed on the handrail and use 10mm clear toughened glass.
This project represented a leap of faith for everyone – Andrew hadn’t built anything like this design before and this certainly wasn’t an everyday design for Balcony either. A standard feature of Balcony products is their ease of installation – many homeowners have successfully ‘done it themselves’ – but this project was not so straightforward.
Bringing curved glass doors together with a squared roof
One of the main challenges was to fit the curved bays into the square slate roof. Our sister company VBS Ltd, installation specialists, working closely with the timber frame company and the roofers, had the necessary steelwork cut and fitted into the wooden frame. The roofers brought together the curves of the glass doors with the square traditional slate roof and the result is stunning.
The result: the curved glass doors allow uninterrupted panoramic views from the house for miles ahead. Curved Juliette balconies fitted on the first floor mean that the glass doors in the bedrooms can be opened and the views enjoyed in safety. The minimal hand rail, with glass reaching from top to bottom and no clamps between panes mean there is nothing to distract the eye. The overall effect is one of light and space and integration into the landscape. Careful planning and co-operation between the contractors and Balcony meant the project came in within budget and on schedule. The property is valued at around £1.5 million.