Interview with Francesc Arbós, President of the Bellapart Group:
In-depth engineering knowledge delivers next-generation solutions
‘Laminated Glass News’ speaks to Francesc Arbós, President of the Bellapart Group and discovers how technology and new design philosophies have moulded and defined the uptake of glazing in architectural construction.
Bellapart specialises in the design and construction of bespoke structures, façades and complex building envelopes made from glass, steel, aluminium and other high-tech materials. First established in 1939, and still family owned (3rd generation), the company is located in Catalunya, Spain, with subsidiaries in other countries, including the UK, the USA and France.
Its past and current project list reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of landmark construction, with some of the most fascinating architectural projects benefiting from the company’s expertise. One particular project, the Endesa Headquarters in Madrid, set a milestone in the combined histories of Bellapart and Kuraray, as it was the first instance of SentryGlas® being used in Europe.
Q. As a façade/building-envelope design and engineering company, how has the development of ever more capable interlayers changed your design capabilities and visions?
“At the time of the Endesa project, we were undertaking studies into larger flat glazed roofs,” Arbós explains,” but we faced issues relating to the lack of stiffness and post-breakage performance of traditional PVB interlayers. I actually first read about SentryGlas® in this very publication, ‘Laminated Glass News’, where DuPont (the original developer of SentryGlas®) mentioned a new interlayer that it had created for hurricane applications. This really captured my attention. So, like any self-respecting and curious engineer, I contacted DuPont to ask if this new interlayer could be used for my application.
“It was fortuitous timing,” he adds, “because at that time there was a need for a much more structural interlayer and SentryGlas® was just what the market needed. I remember asking for the material’s properties, but it was so new and still under test, so DuPont could only send me some very basic figures for elastic modulus. However, I was able to mock up a design using these values and found that it was a perfect match for the demands of this project.”
Built between 2001 and 2003, the roof of the Endesa building was subject to an in-depth inspection in 2014 − 11 years after it had been installed − and Bellapart’s faith in the material was more than justified, with one of the testers commenting that the glazed panels delivered performance characteristics similar to ones that had been fabricated much more recently. The main concern was delamination, especially around the circular mounting holes installed during construction, but the inspectors found both the exposed edges and the hole perimeters to be delamination free. A real testament to the longevity and performance of the interlayer…