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"Seeds of the Future" with SentryGlas® Expressions™ brings art and light to kindergarten renovation project in Germany

Safety glass with SentryGlas® high strength interlayer Laminated safety glass made with DuPont™ SentryGlas® Expressions™ adds to daylight levels inside the kindergarten.
Safety glass with SentryGlas® high strength interlayer The laminated balustrade glass incorporates digitally printed imagery created from a photograph of elm tree seeds.

"Seeds of the Future" with SentryGlas® Expressions™ brings art and light to kindergarten renovation project in Germany

Architects Macro Architekten of Munich used DuPont™ SentryGlas® Expressions™ technology to help bring more natural daylight, fun and art into a kindergarten in Dachau, Germany that has been renovated and transformed from the original 1960s structure.

Small pupils can play safely in the light-filled mezzanine or gallery of the newly renovated Kindergarten St Hildegard in Dachau, Germany because a 14 m2 central light well positioned 2.6 m above ground level is protected with an attractive, laminated glass balustrade of 1.5 m in height and 7.5 m in length incorporating "Seeds of the Future", a composition in DuPont™ SentryGlas® Expressions™ decorative laminated glass.

The renovation project was completed in July 2003 by architects Macro Architekten of Munich. Macro Architekten is the first architectural firm to incorporate DuPont™ SentryGlas® Expressions™ decorative interlayer for laminated glass in a completed project in Europe.

The balustrade, which was laminated by Flachglas Wernberg GmbH Germany with the help of glass art studio Mago-Glas Studio of Pfreimd, Germany incorporates a photograph by Andreas Riedmiller of elm tree seeds.

The architects call the SentryGlas® Expressions™ composition "Seeds of the Future" because of the surrounding milieu of children and educational growth. The "nature" theme was also chosen because of a tie-in with the school's patron, St Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval sage and well-known early writer on the subject of homeopathic medicine.

The kindergarten headmistress, Frau Böhme, said: "It's extremely good for the children to be exposed to this wonderful work of art, this "living design" which, we can explain to them, relates to seeds, nature and growth. Thanks to to the new glass façade and light well the kindergarten is much brighter and more cheerful inside – and because the balustrade glass is laminated, the children can play alongside it safely."

Key architectural feature

The 4.5 x 3 m light well and its decorative laminated glass balustrade incorporating SentryGlas® Expressions™ technology is a key architectural feature of the refurbishment of this 1960s building and its transformation into a modern kindergarten for 3- to 6-year-old children.

According to Macro Architekten partner Franz Kisters, his firm wanted to bring more natural daylight into the kindergarten, especially between the ground and first floors. An important part of the plan was to create a light well between the first and second floors in the place where a storage cupboard used to be situated, on the first floor.

He commented: "This is a much better use of the space than a cupboard! The light well with its decorative glass balustrade throws a lovely effect of shadowing down onto the entry hall on the ground floor as the light showers down through the glass.

"In tandem with a new laminated glass façade for the kindergarten, supplied by Wirth of Mingkofen near Munich, the decorative glass balustrade helps to achieve our goal of opening up the kindergarten, make it more transparent from the street outside and full of daylight in the interior."

Kisters said his firm is planning to provide further customized night illumination of the light well and balustrade. Thanks to the existing illumination of the transparent glass façade, "Seeds of the Future" looks beautiful from the street in the evenings. Architect Kisters went on to say his firm hopes it will become a new Dachau city landmark.

Macro's renovation of the Kindergarten St. Hildegard follows a worldwide architectural trend to bring more natural daylight into schools. John P. Eberhard FAIA, Chairman of the Washington-based Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, recently said: "Our research is already pointing to the fact that, the more light that is allowed into the building, the better the people within the building feel – whether It's a school, a hospital, a church or an office building."

"Surprisingly easy to implement", says architect

Kisters said that DuPont™ SentryGlas® Expressions™ technology is "surprisingly easy" to implement. He continued: "Early on in the project planning we wanted to make the glass balustrade look attractive and fun for the sake of the children. We did not know about Expressions™ technology at that point so we assumed we would have to use silk-screening.

"Paul Gora of Maga-Glas Studio told us about SentryGlas® Expressions™ after he read about it in an architectural glass magazine and we were delighted because this turned out to be a much quicker, easier, controllable and cost-effective solution for customized designs such as ours."

The front-end costs of developing screen prints, producing a sample and adjusting the screens, re-proofing etc. using the silk-screen process are significantly higher compared to making a one-time print for decorative glass using SentryGlas® Expressions™ technology.

Architect Kisters continued: "Specifically, after obtaining copyright permission from the photographer, we simply scanned the page of an image bank catalog reproduction of his photo using a desktop scanner. We then sent the 150 pixels per inch (ppi) resolution scans on two CDs to DuPont who printed the images onto PVB and sent Maga-Glas two sample options of the finished result in laminated glass, one with a translucent background and one with a rather more opaque background.

"The whole process, from order to installation of the balustrade, took about six weeks and we can confirm that compared to silk-screen printing, the process for our particular job was much simpler and cost substantially less (a factor of 1:10)! We could not be more pleased with the results!"

"Outstanding quality" says glass laminator

Macro Architekten used a tiled set of seven 1 x 1.6 m panels of laminated safety glass with Expressions™ decorative glass interlayer. Flachglas quality manager, Josef Failer confirmed that the balustrade consists of one inner layer of 6 mm annealed glass with a 1.52 mm layer of SentryGlas® Expressions™ PVB laminate and a 0.38 mm layer of Soft White Butacite® PVB followed by a 8 mm annealed glass outer layer.

Failer said that to produce the balustrade using screen-printing would have been "ten times more expensive because you would have needed so many repeat screens and you would have had to use four or five films. Plus, you would not have been able to see the image digitally before it was installed. We are very pleased with this new technology".

He continued: "SentryGlas® Expressions™ technology is practical and relatively simple to use. On receipt of the digital images DuPont takes care of printing the PVB and producing the samples for the architect's approval. We simply had to laminate the PVB and we can attest that the overall quality is outstanding – on the same level as standard laminated safety glass."