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Daily CSR
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Guardian Glass Builds Ambitious Sustainable Glass House in Gorafe Desert


“Because, if glass can be efficient in the desert, it’s going to be efficient in your home”.

Source: commons.wikimedia.org; (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Source: commons.wikimedia.org; (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Dailycsr.com – 16 October 2019 – La Casa del Desierto, which literally means “desert house”, is “solitary glass structure” that sits in the middle of the “desolate stone landscape” of Gorafe Desert in Spain. The structure sports glass walls on its three sides and demonstrates the “capabilities of coated glass products” from “Guardian Glass”.
You can watch the first episode of “Guardian Glass Europe - The house of the desert” by clicking on the link given below:
The Guardian Glass European Technical Advisory Center’s Manager, Tom Kovacs said:
“I can tell you the idea was so ambitious that, in our first meeting, the climate engineer and I were like, ‘Ah, forget it … it’s not possible’”.
During summer Gorafe can witness a temperature rise up to “113 degrees Fahrenheit” while dropping well to sub zero range in winter. In fact, one can even witness drastic temperature swing within twenty four hour’s period. Under these conditions, any habitable structure needs to be equipped for both the extreme ranges. As a result, most of the houses there can be found on Cliffside for staying cool and dark. In the words of Gorafe’s Mayor, Miguel Perez Navarro:
“The climate of Gorafe is quite extreme. When I first heard about the project, I was amazed... It’s like building a greenhouse in the middle of the desert”.
The Residential Communications Leader with Guardian Europe, Charlotte Bucheler said:
“The idea was to show people just how important glass can be in the experience of your living space. We decided one of the best ways to prove that was to build a house in the middle of the desert. Because, if glass can be efficient in the desert, it’s going to be efficient in your home.”
It was no less than an “architectural engineering” feat to build the glass house in the middle of the desert which soon “garnered a lot of attention” and was even featured in “a season five episode of the popular Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’”. The building can be rented by public, while Bucheler added:
“When we started to rent it, in the beginning, we opened the booking for one year, and it was fully booked almost immediately”.
Reflecting on the logistic challenges that the building team met in their journey, Kavocs said:
“We have to keep in mind this will be a completely standalone house, which means there will not be any external sources of energy, like electricity or gas. We wanted warm water, we wanted internet … and all this came true finally. But the engineers had to redesign the energy concept multiple times to be able to get there.”
The “sustainable glass house” concept was presented to Spela Videcnik, a “globally renowned architect and Harvard Graduate School of Design instructor”, who helped to develop the blueprint. Guardian Europe’s Content and Media Specialist, Sophie Weckx recounted:
“We worked closely with a team of experts. So, we also enlisted climate engineers and structural engineers.”
The seemingly impossible feat was complete in collaboration with “Guardian Glass, creative agency Graviz, architectural firm OFIS Architects, and engineering consultants Transsolar and structural engineers AKT II”. The final design has a “sanitary core, glass walls, a wooden deck and roof, and an exterior curtain system for shading”. The construction took place in Slovenia and was transported to Spain for reassembling which was completed in three days time.
Although small in size, occupying an area of “just over 200 square feet”, the glass house looks as well as feels “much bigger” as glass walls opens up to outdoors while featuring “a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchenette”. With the use of “Guardian SunGuard® and ClimaGuard® glass” in the outer layer, Kovacs was involved in developing “a triple-paned glass solution” to battle the harsh climate of Gorafe. The coating provides “energy-efficiency and thermal insulation” besides the interior laminated glass layer takes care of safety and security”. Furthermore, the space between these two layers have been filled with “argon gas for additional insulation”.
Kovacs also added:
“To put it simply, it works very well in both summer and winter. The coatings are the additions to the glass surface that take care of the energy balance, or the energy conservation. It’s all about balance because it’s a desert environment.”
“Sometimes they don’t believe in the capabilities or energy-saving potential of coatings because they’re so thin. I want them to realize that, with coated glass, there’s a lot more possible than they might imagine. Coatings can do a lot.”
Climate control and lighting systems are powered by the solar panels installed on the glass house’s roof. Giving further details involved in the process of building the house, Kovacs said:
“The outermost pane was bigger at the top and the bottom, and sunk into the ceiling and the floor. It was drilled in at a couple of points and then attached to the roof and floor, and then the whole weight of the roof rested on this top edge of the triple glass unit. It was a very important detail in the structural design.”
The plan so far is to eventually move La Casa out of the desert without leaving any trace of its existence even though the structure is capable of self-sustaining, whereby marking the “end of one experiment”.