Glass Highrise Residential and Commercial Towers Banned in Shanghai

big skyscraper photo
CC BY 2.0. Ciocci

Glass makes a glitzy building and is so easy for the architect and the developer, just pick a system out of a catalogue and get a subcontractor to do it and you are done. It is fast and modern looking and provides great views. Too bad that it ishorrible from an energy point of view, and has this tendency to spontaneously explode if it is not tempered properly and checked carefully, as was happening in Toronto recently.

In China, the situation has got so bad that they have banned glass towers in Shanghai. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has laid down the law. According toGlobal Times,

"Shanghai now has 2,633 buildings with glass walls, among which 1,500 are more than eight floors tall, which means that serious damage could be caused if the glass walls explode," Zheng Shao, a CPPCC member told reporters on Tuesday, adding that the explosion rate of glass walls in the city rests at a high 0.3 percent.
Therefore, the city should rethink the approach adopted in 1984, when brick walls were substituted with glass to speed development, CPPCC member Tu Haiming, said on Tuesday.
"The glass walls are only a twelfth as heavy as brick ones and save up to 75 percent time spent on construction, but many of the walls do not hold up well for their 25-year lifetime," he told reporters on Tuesday. "What's worse is that property developers and building owners are unwilling to have the glass walls checked regularly, which means they are a ticking time bomb."

The China Daily shows a photo of a young woman who lost part of her leg when it was sliced off by a shard of glass in Hangzou, and spoke to a professor of architecture:

"Technically speaking, the glass curtain wall is a relatively mature technology as it was introduced to China in the 1980s, but many human factors such as the lack of maintenance may contribute to accidents causing injury or damage,"

That tower in the middle of the rendering above, One Lujiazui in Shanghai, looks shiny in the rendering. But more than a hundred panes have fallen off it since it was built, destroying hundreds of cars below.

There are good environmental reasons for getting rid of all-glass buildings; they waste energy and they kill birds. It is clear that there are good safety reasons too. It's about time it happened.