DigiGlass  introduces the DuPont SentryGlas Expressions decorative glass technology. Two general hospitals in Australia have selected this for a range of benefits including safety, durability, cleanliness, sound attenuation and design flexibility.

In the Sir Charles Gardener Hospital (SCGH), a large general hospital in downtown Perth, SentryGlas Expression technology is used in an exterior facade facing the ambulance bay and an interior facade within the emergency waiting room.

In the Gympie cottage hospital in rural Queensland, DuPont’s decorative interlayer for laminated safety glass is used in sliding doors separating a general reception area from a waiting room.

Pushing safety standards upwards
Alan Baxter of BGC Commercial Windows, whose Perth-based company handled the SCGH installation, told LGN: Government institutions such as hospitals are generally looking to push building safety standards upwards. The use of laminated glass in hospitals protects patients more effectively than other types of glass - and the fact that this glass can now contain decorative designs can make it really good-looking – something a bit different from the usual ‘clinical’ feel of general hospitals - while retaining best-in-class safety aspects.

The external facade came under particular scrutiny when it came to safety standards. Directly outside this facade, ambulances arrive day and night, bringing critically ill people and their helpers to the hospital. We subjected the entire laminated glass installation incorporating SentryGlas Expressions technology, including its aluminium frame, to rigorous wind load testing according to Australian building standards to ensure that safety is integral to the design.

External facade becomes “a cheerful beacon” for ambulances at night
The ‘cloud patterns’ within the decorative glass at SCGH were created by artists Penny Bovell and Birgitta Hupfel, both lecturers in Visual Art and the University of Western Australia. Bovell said: “SCGH’s emergency department faces King’s Park, a natural park in downtown Perth. The hospital wanted to retain the feeling of nature close by for patients in the emergency waiting room – yet we had to also give the patients a sense of privacy, to protect them from the stares of passers-by. The range of background options with SentryGlas Expressions meant we could select just the right degree of translucency that solved both challenges. The gentle, clouds pattern responds to the needs of the interior environment. It’s a soothing design, we hope. Yet outside, at night, the colorful facade is lit up like a cheerful beacon for arriving ambulances and patients.

A great way of integrating art and architecture in a hospital setting
The laminated glass with SentryGlas Expressions provides a far better use of the space, architecturally, than clear safety glass or a concrete wall could. It’s very viable functionally as a new, alternative material for all kinds of buildings, particularly hospitals. It’s a departure from the traditional hospital concept where you have walls and then you hang pictures on walls to make the atmosphere less clinical and cheer people up.

Instead, laminated glass with SentryGlas Expressions technology lets light through. It helps to reduce sound inside the waiting room, it’s easy to clean – all this, and it brings art into a public space too. This is an utterly new concept that’s totally underused currently, it’s a great way of integrating art and architecture in a hospital setting.

Durable and hard wearing
Meanwhile, Queensland Public Arts Department Project Manager, Martha Liew, worked with representatives from Gympie cottage hospital to select laminated glass with SentryGlas Expressions technology for sliding doors separating a general reception area and a waiting room. Liew said: “Our choice of decorative glass had to be both durable, hard wearing and of course safe for patients and medical personnel alike. SentryGlas Expressions technology provides the ultimate protection for the artwork within the laminated glass interlayer, even protecting it from UV rays so it will not fade with time.”

Easy to clean
There are doctors and nurses rushing through these doors all the time so it was important to retain the maximum visibility for optimal way finding. Yet if it the glass was too transparent the design would not be visible. We selected a semi/transparent background that means that people hurrying along can see what-s up ahead / yet the artwork is still nicely visible. The artwork can be easily cleaned too, and is thus a better alternative for a hospital setting than hung paintings or other types of artwork, which could harbor bacteria.

Customized design
Once we were convinced that decorative glass could be safely and hygienically incorporated into Gympie hospital we invited local artists to a design competition, increasing the community appeal of the installation for local residents, patients and staff alike.

Kerry Atkins is well known for her abstract paintings of the Lillyputty flower, which is very common in this part of Queensland. The company selected an Atkins Lillyputty design for the sliding doors, which it hope gives a feeling of familiarity and comfort to Gympie Hospital patients in the reception area and waiting room. This contributes to their sense of wellbeing during what could be a rather anxious time.

DMS Glass of Melbourne fabricated the laminated glass incorporating SentryGlas Expressions used in both of these general hospital installations.