Glass is one of the most exciting and versatile building materials available to us today, so much so that it is hard to imagine façades, for example, that do not contain any glass. Moreover, for some time now there has been an increasing move towards using this material also as a load-bearing element, as a result of which entirely novel transparent supporting structures can be realised.
Today the glass industry is able to make corrugated glass panels – out of laminated (safety) glass and double or insulated glass – in any shape or form designers wish them to be. The structural analysis of such unusual glass designs is one of the special fields of Prof. Rob Nijsse who has been working in this area in a leading position at ABT, a Dutch engineering office, for many years.
Rob Nijsse is a structural engineer at ABT – one of the largest engineering firms in the Netherlands. After working in various positions within the firm since he joined after completing his studies, he now works there as a senior consultant alongside his research and teaching work at the TU Delft. Since 1985, he has harboured a keen interest in glass as a structural material. One of his first projects was his work for the glass “Sonsbeek Pavillon” in Arnheim, the Netherlands, which was planned and realised by Bethem Crouwel Architects in 1985. His various projects with glass are presented in a book which appeared in 2004: “Glass in Structures: Elements, Concepts, Designs”. Rob Nijsse is sought-after as a speaker at international conferences and as a consultant for international design firms.
The company has already realised a number of important buildings using corrugated glass panels in the façade: the Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal (OMA architects) and the Museum at the Stream (MAS) in Antwerp, Belgium (Neutelings Riedijk architects). More buildings are currently under construction: the University library of Doha in Qatar and the Performing Arts Centre in Taipei, Taiwan, (both by OMA architects) and will be finished by the end of 2013. During the lecture Rob Nijsse showed how it is possible to make safe and reliable structures consisting of structural elements such as floors, beams, walls, columns, roofs and facades made entirely out of glass.