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Sapphire creates innovative façade integration with balustrades for Reading’s new landmark apartments, Chatham Place

Sapphire is scaling new heights with the successful completion of 772 linear metres of structural glass balustrades to residential balconies and roof terraces and vertical bar, railing style balustrades to internal stairways at Chatham Place in Reading. The development of around 180 new apartments, split over two high rise towers, marks the final phase of a multi-million pound regeneration scheme which includes the town’s tallest residential building at 19 storeys.

The collection of well-appointed one, two, and three bedroom properties at Chatham Place offers all the added-value benefits of balconies with beautiful glazed balustrades from Sapphire’s Crystal® range. A frameless structural glass solution with no vertical posts to impede views, Crystal® creates a high end result with stunning visual appeal and exceptional durability. As part of its end-to-end service Sapphire worked closely with main contractor Galliford Try to develop a project pathway for the delivery of internal and external balustrades. This concept is used by Sapphire to identify key steps from design and manufacture through to on-site installation and after-sales care. “Sapphire has an approachable attitude,” says Senior Project Manager for Galliford Try, “and its products interfaced well with other trades, particularly the façade company.”

The Crystal® glass balustrades for Chatham Place were manufactured and installed by Sapphire in various panel configurations to suit different sized balconies. As a demonstration of Sapphire’s intelligent engineering in action, all first-fix balcony balustrade posts were fitted with reusable templates. This ensured the layout of balustrades going up the building was consistent and also saved time setting out on site. The clever design of the structural glass balustrades’ base fixing made the integration of the cladding and balustrades as seamless as possible. In addition, a screen-printed opaque band at the base of each glass panel is used to effectively conceal the balcony structure from view, ensuring a sleek finish to the façade.

Apartment balconies at Chatham Place are integrated balcony structures, with concrete balconies that form an essential part of the building’s structural facade rather than being bolted on to it. The understated lightness of the glass infill panels is complemented by slim-line aluminium cappings with a Gunmetal Grey finish. Additionally, Crystal® balustrades, with cappings to match the balconies, provide a complementary guarding solution to roof terraces: balustrades are channel-fixed to parapet walls around the roofs of both residential buildings.

Sapphire’s project package also included internal balustrades for communal stairways at Chatham Place. A vertical bar infill system offered a cost-effective solution for this application without compromising quality or style. The grey powder-coated mild steel vertical bar balustrades are combined with a smart, stainless steel handrail.

All balustrades and fixings for Chatham Place were designed by Sapphire to comply with relevant regulations and British Standards for structural performance and design loads, as well as specific safety regulations relating to residential applications. This included suitability for children, where BS6180 requires balustrades not to be easily climbable and to have no gaps of more than 100mm, to prevent a small child falling through.

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