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Soaring glass wall provides centrepiece for cutting edge technology firm HQ

A state-of-the-art office space is often seen as a big part of the brand for fast-growth technology companies. This was the brief for Isle of Man-based architect Savage and Chadwick when asked to design a new building at the Douglas headquarters of online gaming software business, Microgaming.

The new building sits adjacent to the company’s existing office and both sites connect via a glazed ‘sky bridge’ across the road in between the two. Providing office space for the company’s rapidly expanding Isle of Man team, the new premises plays a key role in attracting and maintaining talent for the company.

As well as providing state-of-the-art office facilities for employees, the new building also includes a roof terrace, a canteen and coffee bar, a gym and a gallery space.

The main focal point for the building is a full-height wall of Pilkington Planar™ glazing, which rises more than 25 metres tall and spans nine metres wide. This encloses a five-storey atrium, creating a dramatic entrance to the building and flooding its interior with daylight.

Uninterrupted views, controlled climate

To maximise the transparency of the glazing, and provide the best possible views to occupants, the glass is supported by a lightweight tension structure, combined with low-profile stainless steel point fixings.

This avoids the need for any large framing elements, giving the appearance of an almost free-standing wall of glass.

To give added strength to the system and to meet the demanding design criteria, the Pilkington Planar™ system is designed with an outer pane of 12mm-thick Pilkington Suncool™ Pro T – a toughened glass that provides high resistance to wind loads.

In addition to its structural performance, this glass also features an advanced solar control coating that reduces the amount of the sun’s energy entering the building while maintaining high levels of transparency.

This helps to reduce the risk of the space overheating during the warmer months of the year, meaning it does not require intensive air conditioning to maintain a comfortable climate and reducing building running costs in the long-term.

An engineered solution

Working closely with designers at Pilkington and IOCHRE, the team developed a bespoke tension structure to support the wall of glazing, which was installed by structural glazing specialist OJ Taffinder.

Ollie Taffinder, Managing Director at installer OJ Taffinder, said: “We needed a system that would allow us to create a large, clear façade for the front of the building, without using bulky and unsightly framing.

“The tension structure is an evolution of more traditional rigid steel structures and provides a very elegant appearance, similar to that which can be achieved with glass fins. The clean lines and low profile of the stainless-steel bolts used by the Pilkington Planar™ system finish the design perfectly, delivering an almost uninterrupted wall of glass.”

Phil Savage, commercial contracts sales manager at Pilkington, added: “This is another project that shows off the capabilities of the Pilkington Planar™ system in terms of creating an almost uninterrupted wall of glazing. It also demonstrates the ability of our advanced coatings to deliver high levels of energy performance, even in those spaces that are enclosed by large areas of glass.”

Following completion this summer, the complex – including both the new office and an existing building on the same site – now houses more than 200 of Microgaming’s and Derivco’s Douglas-based staff.