Taking advantage of a remarkable site bordering the Thames and an ambitious promotion of 103 (very) high-class apartments, the London Office of Architecture, directed by the renowned Lord Richard Rogers, conceived the "Montevetro" (glass mountain) concept.
The building unfolds its sloping silhouette over a length of 120 m and a width of 15 m, and is divided into 5 "blacks" of increasing height, from 3 floors on the south side up to 20 floors on the opposite side.
Main facades. The curtain-facades are entirely composed of pre-assembled components. On a framework of 3.60 m by 3 .05 m average height, the components are fitted with a variable layout of glazed frames, opening or fixed, in structural glazing. lnstead of being mounted, the insulating glass is bonded ta an aluminium frame, this then being invisible from the outside.
The west façade facing the Thames is entirely glazed, and only the thin parapets and balcony corners are made of opaque components, closed by juxtaposed aluminium profiles.
On the landward side, the facade presents a more substantial play of opaque zones, consisting of insulating panels covered with terracotta cladding (hollow earthenware slabs of 20 cm height, 90 cm length and 7 cm depth, suspended mechanically).
Penthouses. The windows of the penthouses are glued (structural glazing) on ta narrow aluminium T-shaped profiles, which are also suspended on a visible tubular metal construction. The fineness of the ridge edge is obtained by a right-angled corner of the window, the assembly of the angle being done by gluing the windows without profiles.
Lift shafts. The fronts of the lift shafts that move up and dawn the east façade have been created in clamped glass (VEA). The areas of simple tempered glass of 12 mm (1 ,500 x 2,500 mm maximum dimension) are bolted on ta special attaching pieces ("spiders") in cast stainless steel that link them to the tubular metal construction.
The conception and creation of the façades of this kind of construction have had to be carried out within the following constraints:
Responding to a unique and daring architecture. Demanding, due to its antagonistic principles of construction (magnitude of the elements, but extreme delicacy of the execution) and the multitude of unheard-of details to be resolved (from the connections and penetrations of the framework pieces up to the metal hinges of the openings).
Ensuring the logistics, from the pre-fabrication in the workshop to the erection on the building site. Made more difficult due to the large size of the concept, but also to the multitude of different elements, without the effect of seriai working.
Taking account of the particular use of the building. ln fact, for the high-level residences, the chosen techniques and materials for the facades, which are generally intended for office buildings, are put to the test here by domestic use, which is more intensive and also more demanding on quality.
Aluminium profiles. The profiles of the window frameworks are insulating aluminium profiles designed and extruded to size; approximately thirty new dies have been created.
Apart from the fronts of the frames intended for the gluing of glass, which have been treated by specifie anodising, the aluminium is subjected to a thermo-powdering treatment with a specifie colour derived from grey RAL 9006.
The openings had to be the object of special attention: the large dimensions of the frames and the delicacy of the profiles cou Id not be resolved by traditional solutions. ln particular, the metal hinges had to be re inforced or even specially re-designed, as for example the pivots of the very large (2.15 m by 1.80 m), asymmetric pivoting doors of the penthouses.Download PDF