Gota Dam | Bespoke Architectural Glazing In Africa

An overview of how we completed this Architectural glazing in Africa.

IQ were approached by Studio Seilern to provide the full architectural glazing package in Zimbabwe for their planned bespoke building. A key issue for the project was the access to site as well as local hyperinflation. Consideration was given to each material of the project to find out the best and most effective methods of sourcing and delivery.

In the end, almost all materials were locally sourced apart from key elements that required a specialist such as the architectural glazing. Due to the location of the project, the glazing was a key aspect of the design. The building is located on a stone outcrop within a private agricultural estate and overlooks the landscapes from its elevated location. The project took the architects 9 months to design and 6 years to build.

The 1500 sqm building is created from a series of pavilion set beneath cantilevered roof canopies. The glazing here was used to enclose the winter living areas and all principle spaces. A mixture of frameless fixed glazing and ultra slim sliding glass doors were used to achieve this.

“[the client] wanted to push the boundaries. To really bring the building down to its essence”, Cristina Seilern explained in the studio’s video on ‘The Making of Gota Dam Residence’. “We really tried to think about how to lightly touch this rock. And place a building, and land a building on this rock. And then essentially frame the views and live between this rock and the views.”

With the understanding of the glazing requirements and building design IQ began the undertaking of this architectural glazing project in Africa.

Glass Survey in Zimbabwe

In many of our international glazing projects, the site measurement would be done by the main contractor, or we would be provided approved sizes by the architect. This helps to reduce costs and time on these overseas projects. However, in the case of Gota Dam, the clients and the architects wanted IQ to compete the measurements directly.

When the structure was ready, we sent one of our glazing surveyors over to the site to measure all of the openings. Due to the nature of architectural glazing and the precise nature of these items, a correct and accurate site measurement is a key component to a successful project.

At the time of the site survey, only the concrete shell of the structure was complete. Our surveyor agreed a datum line and took all measurements for the glass.During this site visit, the surveyor also reported on the site logistics, transportation access and recommendations for fitting.From these materials our technical design drawings were updated and all material orders placed.

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Glass Delivery and Logistics in Zimbabwe.

The site at Gota Dam is one of the most remote and hard to access sites we have worked on. The house itself was located on the edge of a stone outcrop, overlooking a lake. The entire area was part of a private farm which was vast. From the entry gate to the farm itself, the site location for the building was over a 3 hr drive into the land itself. And the terrain was not easy either. When the materials were shipped to site the closest that the delivery vehicle could reach was the access road to the plot. From there, the glass and all materials were carried by hand to the site and openings.

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Glazing Installation in Zimbabwe

For this project, one of our glazing supervisors went to site to oversee the installation. The majority of the physical installation was conducted by the local labour force with the IQ supervisor overseeing and managing the installation. This methodology for glazing installation ensures that the architectural glazing is installed successfully with reduced costs to the client and project team.

One key aspect of glazing installation is the movement and carrying of large heavy glass units. If something is cropped as it is too heavy, the replacement glass unit can take months to remake, causing significant delays to the program. On this project, all lifting equipment for the installation was sourced locally by the main contractor, ensuring that proper lifting equipment was available in this remote location.

Due to the building program, our glazing supervisor was on site for a month during which time all glazing was installed. This included all fixed and sliding glass as well as the final touches such as structural silicone to both the glass and the frame.

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The Finished Glazing Project in Zimbabwe

The glass formed a vast majority of the exterior envelope of the luxury house and was a key installation as part of the project completion. After the glass installation, the interiors were completed to finalise the large house project. The resulting building is architecturally striking and sits well within the landscape. The building went on to win the House of the Year at the 2013 RIBA International Awards as well as WAN House of the Year in 2012.

If you have any further questions about the installation of the glazing at Gota Dam or are looking at your own glazing project, please contact the team at IQ.

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