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Barcelona: world’s first ‘UV-breathable’ laminated glass

Safety glass with SentryGlas® high strength interlayerA Barcelona science museum needed a strong "UV-breathable" structural interlayer to allow UV rays to pass into a living rain forest exhibit.

Architects Robert and Esteve Terradas of Barcelona describe the city’s newly-renovated and expanded (45,000 m2) Science Museum (completed September 2004) as "a living museum that will set new standards in terms of transparency - a very modern construction that will enable the plants and animals inside to really live and breathe." The project was made possible by the use of an innovative grade of DuPont™ SentryGlas© structural interlayer that is "UV-breathable, on the flat roof of an Amazonian rainforest exhibit".

The UV-breathable 938 m2 laminated glass roof is rectangular in shape. It is designed specifically to house an ‘Amazonian rainforest exhibit illustrating the evolution of life on earth’, according to the architects.

UV light helps produce vitamin D, essential to the animals in the living ecosystem inside the greenhouse. Typical animals indigenous to the Amazon rain forest range from crocodiles to anaconda snakes, tortoises, beetles, ants and capibarras (the largest species of rat in the world).

DuPont was able to satisfy the museum’s specification by supplying a "UV-breathable" grade of its SentryGlas© structural interlayer that allows UV rays to pass through. Most other types of laminated glass interlayers – including polyvinyl butyral (PVB) - need a UV stabilizer for their manufacture that automatically blocks out UV rays.

Architects usually consider the UV block an advantage because it reduces the fading of fabrics and furnishings. However in this case, the block would have prevented the Amazonian rain forest section of the museum from being the complete ecosystem recreation the biologists and architects had dreamed of.

Because of its stability, DuPont's structural interlayer doesn’t need UV-stabilizers. Demand for a ‘UV-breathable’ grade that is just as strong and safe as regular laminated glass gives SentryGlas® opportunities from architects worldwide wanting to create greenhouses containing both plant and animal life."

Francesc Arbos Bellapart of Bellapart Engineering, located near Barcelona, wrote the engineering specifications for the greenhouse and the laminated glass for the project was manufactured by Saint-Gobain Glass.