22 Bishopsgate Combines Glass Art and Architecture

London’s 22 Bishopsgate soars more than 900 feet high, but one of its most characteristic design features is its decorative glass canopies, which consist of 149 laminates, colorfully designed by the artist Alexander Beleschenko. In order to print his designs accurately onto glass, a precise printing technique was necessary, and at the same time the glass itself needed to fulfill high technical safety demands. The artist, who lives in England but has Ukrainian roots, worked with the German company sedak, which fabricated the unique glass for the project.

22 Bishopsgate in London features digitally printed, colorful canopies. Photo: Simon Kennedy

The canopies are filled with blue, yellow, orange, red and green geometric shapes, some opaque, some translucent. Equally color-intensive patterns, such as huge brushstrokes on the glass surfaces, can be found on the glass façade, and colorfully designed glass elements decorate some of the ceilings in the entrances, serving as friendly indications of where to go. The design also features many different formats of the glass, varying in size and form including quadratic, trapezoid, triangular and free-form. No two glass elements are the same.

For 22 Bishopsgate, Beleschenko was inspired by the traditional coats of arms of the trade guilds, reinterpreting them in a new, abstract way that connects the modern with the historic.

Using glass for roofs already demands high technical standards because of the danger of breakage. What makes the glass elements exceptional in this case is the permanently color-fast and precise ceramic digital printing process at a resolution of 1080 dpi. Ceramic colors are especially stable in terms of tone and do not become bleached even under UV radiation, making them ideal for use outdoors.

Beleschenko sent his files directly to sedak to handle the printing process. The company fabricated double-layer safety glass made from 8-mm low-iron glass (heat-strengthened glass) with digital printing, and the artwork in position 2 or 3. In addition to the canopies, there are also printed insulating glass lites since the art extends to the façade. These lites are each made from two double laminates (6-mm heat-strengthened glass). They are filled with argon and printed in position 2 or 7. In total, sedak supplied 149 laminates and 370 insulated glass panes. The project was designed by PLP Architecture of London and Josef Gartner GmbH of Germany was the facade contractor.

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