How architectural glass is gaining the technological edge

How architectural glass is gaining the technological edge

B Santhanam, MD, Saint-Gobain India, sheds light on how the company continues to stay relevant in the current architectural context with the help of evolving technology

B Santhanam, MD, Saint-Gobain India.
B Santhanam, MD, Saint-Gobain India.

Saint-Gobain’s history is marked by an ongoing movement towards diversification and refocusing. The company’s strategy emphasises sustainable habitat while continuing to serve many industrial markets. Leveraging its many sites around the world, the group is continuing to grow in emerging markets, and is making significant acquisitions to extend its building materials distribution network.

In yet another milestone for the company, Saint-Gobain recently inaugurated three world-class facilities with an investment of over INR 1,200 crore in Tamil Nadu. Research and innovation are at the heart of the company’s strategy, with a focus on both, breakthrough innovations and continuously improving its products, processes and services in a spirit of openness and attentiveness to customer needs.

PICTUREit, by Saint-Gobain, functions as a publishing canvas that can be printed upon.

Given that the architectural community is at the core of the company’s customer portfolio, managing director B Santhanam has created a community of united entrepreneurs, responsive to consumer and social needs to continuously shaping the future.

Glass is one of the most vastly used material in the construction industry. How has Saint-Gobain worked towards skill development?
There are, at least, two or three (and, at times, more) intermediaries involved between Saint Gobain as a company and the end user. Our challenge has always been strengthening and contributing value to this segment of service providers — be it consultants, architects, processers, fabricators, etc. So, one of our foremost step was the establishment of the Glass Academy, which focuses on skill and knowledge development through hundreds of e-learning modules. The academy is open to everyone from student to professional architects and consultants, supervisors to construction workers. We also have a programme called Safe Glass Consortium, which has developed Whatsapp chat groups, where, for instance, if a fabricator finds difficulty in installing a new product, technically he can get help via an installation video immediately.

SageGlass, an electrochromic glass from Saint-Gobain, is a one-of-itskind in the world that can control the appearance and performance of the facade, according to one’s preference.

How has technology changed and influenced design today and how has Saint Gobain adapted to this?
Sustainable and efficient designs form the core of our principles. When an architect approaches us with projects, we run a detailed design analysis that includes studying the sun’s path, undertaking glare acoustic and thermal analysis, providing advice on the right products, etc. Often, generic glass images are Photoshop-ed in 3D renders of the building; this does not really depict how glass behaves in reality. As a solution to this, we have a tool to create physicorealistic imaging for glass buildings to provide a hyper-realistic render of how a building’s facade would look and behave through the day, under various climatic conditions. It also shows how and what the glass would reflect in context to its surrounding.

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