What to consider when designing a mountain home
Spanning across eight countries, the Alps are the most densely populated mountain area in the world. Known for their stunning natural landscapes, architecture in this region tends to rightfully seek a symbiotic relationship with the mountain range and its valleys, while providing protection from the Alpine elements.
From ski chalets to luxury homes to resorts, architectural glazing in the Alps takes many different forms as performance and aesthetic needs are influenced by the Alpine climate, which can vary depending on a site’s altitude along the mountain range. One, if not the main constant in Alpine architecture, however, is the use of timber, which is abundant in quantity and quality across the entire region, as well as being a charming, sustainable choice.
Alongside it, our aluminium frameless glazing can be perfectly incorporated within timber structures, enhancing builds’ views and performance through various bespoke glass specifications designed to meet the necessary requirements.
In an area such as the Alps, some of the most suitable glass specifications include but are not limited to heated glass, wind load glazing, thermally efficient glazing, and solar control glass.
Heated Glass for Glazing in the Alps
When thinking of the Alps, the first images that come to mind feature snow covered pitched rooftops and cozy winter homesteads.
As modern living designs showcase a combination of traditional timber and glazing technologies, heated glass is a great means to achieve this contemporary balance of performance needs and aesthetic.
Heated glass coatings are made with a semi conductive material within the interior face of the internal glass pane, so that when electricity passes through it the glass itself becomes a powerful heat source, reaching temperatures between 20°C and 60°C in mere minutes.
When designed with snow removal in mind, the semi conductive coating is applied to the interior face of the external glass pane to melt away any snow build up with minimal energy consumption, as snow’s melting temperature sits at or barely above 0°C.
Wind Load Glazing in the Alps
The varied topography of the Alps significantly influences wind strengths and patterns as they tend to accelerate through narrow mountain passes, potentially leading to turbulence.
At higher altitudes, warm and dry windstorms known as the ‘Foehn Effect’ can cause sudden, sometimes extreme increases in temperature in the valleys on the downwind mountainsides, while in the Maritime Alps region, winds known as ‘Tramontana’ can produce strong gusts that in more extreme conditions can reach speeds up to 70km/h.
In combination with the apt alignment of builds in relation to prevailing wind trajectories, wind load glazing and thermally efficient glazing can enhance a structure’s overall safety and performance when it comes to the varying Alpine wind pressures and temperatures.
For example, our framed glazing systems including our slim framed sliding doors have a wind tightness classification of Class C5, which means the system was tested to a maximum of 3000 Pa of wind pressure, with a relative frontal deflection of <1/300 (C).
Additionally, as a standard, IQ provide Low E glass within all of our glazing systems.
Short for low emissivity, Low E glass is known to improve the thermal efficiency of glass without altering the appearance of a glass unit. The glass coating reflects a high percentage of heat back into the interiors, rather than allowing it to escape to the external face of the building.
Solar Control Glazing in the Alps
In the Maritime Alps, seascapes and mountains combine into a more temperate microclimate as the nearby coasts bring in milder and sometimes warmer currents, meaning that even properties at higher altitudes see an average of 300 days of sunlight every year.
For structures situated in those ‘liminal spaces’ along the mountains and the inner plains, especially in France and Italy where the warm seasons can reach higher temperatures than expected, a Solar Control Glass specification can prevent interior living spaces from overheating while also keeping infrared rays at bay.
Additionally, a dynamic glazing solution such as Electrochromic Glass might be suitable as it is controlled via electric power. This allows full control of the unit’s UV shielding properties as the metal ions within the glass panes are drawn to the external face of the coating only through electricity, which means that the glass would always be neutrally clear unless the ions are activated.
To enquire about our bespoke glazing packages for your project in the Alps, contact the IQ team today!