The physical properties of glass are invaluable and unequaled when it comes to the architect’s material palette. From the time of the cathedrals and the the brilliantly colored stained glass that served a functional and didactic purpose, to the modernist liberation of the floor plan and the exquisitely-framed horizontal views provided by ample windows, architects have turned to glass to achieve not only aesthetic but performative conditions in their projects.
Today, Architects face an increasing array of choices in specifying and designing with glass for building facades, as glass manufacturers propose a greater variety of colors, textures and patterns than ever before. A wider range of coatings and treatments has also been developed, allowing for a finer selection of glass panes with a combination of light transmittance, reflectance and absorption to meet the needs of outstanding architectural projects. These options affect the aesthetics and energy performance of the glass, and therefore of the overall building.
Thanks to advanced calculation tools, energy performance can now be anticipated accurately, but the graphic representation of glass is still a challenge, and yet a crucial need for architects.
Traditionally, glazing would be chosen based on the perception architects get from a small glass mock-up. But the observation depends on the lighting and environmental conditions, and the process is neither fast nor efficient, as it is harnessed by production and logistics constraints. 3D modelling and computer generated renderings today complete the picture, allowing architects to make an educated guess about how the glass façade of a building will look.
But even in the best renderings, the depiction of glass remains quite inaccurate, as the rendering is not based on actual data about the lighting conditions on site or the type of glass suggested. Hence, this is not enough to choose the perfect glass for a project.
Physico-realistic rendering is completely changing this landscape, and Saint-Gobain is proud to be part of the revolution. The #1 European glass manufacturer has developed a unique new tool: the Glass Pro app.
This is not just about 3D images or photorealism. The big innovation is that Glass Pro app generates close to 4000 physico-realistic images, rendering the real color and physical properties - such as light transmission and reflection - of the selected glass. The visualization can be done under different angles, various lighting conditions (overcast or sunny), several interior design settings (with or without white/gray blinds), and urban or countryside environments. Additionally, the Glass Pro app allows you to compare the aesthetics and properties of two glass products, displaying them simultaneously on the screen.
And all this is done within seconds, on your iPad.
But how do we achieve this physico-realistic rendering?
The physical characteristics of glass products are first obtained by measuring real glass samples. Then, specific scenarios are built using 3D modelling software that employs computer graphic technics to represent the exact geometry of glazing units, to light the 3D scene, to define viewpoints and to apply the glass material definition. The information is finally processed by Indigo Renderer to produce digital images.
With an advanced physical camera model, a super-realistic materials system and the ability to simulate complex lighting situations through Metropolis Light Transport, the renderer is capable of producing the highest levels of realism demanded by architectural and product visualization.
This advanced technology makes Glass Pro a reliable decision-making assistant for glazing products throughout the different stages of a building construction. A first step towards visualizing the glazing of your building, before it’s even built…