The Importance of Bird-Safe Glass in Exteriors: The Case of The Helios School
Glass has become a central element in modern architecture with the introduction of new strategies for designing and experiencing buildings. Its transparency and material composition allow for natural light to enter, while creating seamless connections between interior and exterior spaces. However, the prevalence of this material has meant that every year, billions of birds collide into glass structures.
These collisions tend to occur during the migratory pathways of birds, as they fly through cities and are drawn to internal lights in buildings or misjudge outdoor reflections of trees and vegetation, causing a huge number of bird deaths and injuries. In response to this challenge, an increasing number of cities are now introducing legislation that requires new construction to feature bird-friendly glass. Without compromising on the aesthetic appeal of glass, Eastman has developed Saflex™ FlySafe™ 3D Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) interlayers. This additional layer features a three-dimensional reflective pattern that is highly visible to the bird’s eye from the outside while remaining subtle to the human eye from the inside. Delving into the application of this solution within architectural design, we showcase how The Helios School adopted this strategy.
The Helios School: Prioritizing bird safety with Saflex FlySafe PVB interlayers
Schilling Architects’ strategy involved designing an educational space with solutions that maximized the properties of glass, while providing a measure of safety for the birds passing through the school’s campus in Cologne, Germany. In collaboration with Eastman –a supplier of PVB interlayers for glass– the architects installed FlySafe 3D PVB interlayers to the school’s 8-meter-tall glass windows.
Within the three-dimensional reflective sequins, light is captured at different angles to prevent birds from being distracted by the lights of the glass panels. These sequins’ 3D characteristics require less coverage than conventional bird screen glass, covering less than 1% of the glass surface. Barely noticeable from the inside, this coverage doesn’t interfere with the building’s interior experience.
Combining the use of Saflex Flysafe 3D, Saflex Acoustic PVB interlayers, and a protective coating on the outer lite, the dimensions of the installed glass are 2970 mm by 7950 mm and 2640 mm by 4820 mm. These panels were manufactured by Thiele Glas, with a base coating from Saint-Gobain, and were installed by Metal Yapi.
Design freedom: Combining systems and coatings
This bird-friendly protection glazing is also compatible with selective coatings and various systems. Architects can combine this protection with Saflex Acoustic, Saflex Structural, and Saflex Storm PVB interlayers to enhance the material’s safety, security, structural integrity, aesthetics, and solar or acoustic control.
Adapting to the requirements of each building, this additional glazing can be finished with a silver matte or shiny sequin, as well as sequins of varying dimensions that best complement the design.
The grid pattern is composed of rows and columns of sequins that can be customized in two sizes: 6mm (0.24 in.) or 9mm (0.35 in.) in diameter, with a separation on all sides of no more than 90 mm (3.5 in.).
Long-lasting and proficient solutions
The solution’s 3D-reflective technology has been certified after undergoing tests by the Collision Laboratories in Hohenau-Ringelsdorf, Austria. It is recognized for its minimal obscuring of views, effectiveness, and durability by both the industry and ornithologists. Additionally, it enables buildings to meet emerging regulations and certifications for bird protection, including the LEED® Innovation credit for Bird Collision Deterrence.
Flight tunnel testing shows that single-unit laminates with Saflex FlySafe 3D 9mm shiny and matte sequins are highly effective at 9% approaches, while 6mm sequins show an effectiveness rate of 13% approaches.
To enhance the long-lasting protection of the material, these sequins are layered between glass panels. The sequins are shielded from exterior elements and cleaning tools, requiring only standard laminated glass cleaning and maintenance procedures.
Integrating Saflex FlySafe 3D PVB interlayers into The Helios School window system demonstrates how it enhances the building’s glazing performance. In addition to maximizing the technical features of glass, it strengthens its responsiveness to the surrounding environment, improving the views while ensuring the safety of birds.
For more information about bird-friendly glass solutions and how to integrate them into your design strategies, visit the product catalog.