The largest windows ever handled by New Zealand manufacturers were installed in The Pā development at the University of Waikato this week, bespoke lifting equipment used to delicately guide the two one tonne panels into place.
Family-owned company, Wight Aluminium, worked with architects Architectus and Metro Glass, to design the window frames and source the specialist glass from Poland.
A total of 12 panels form the front of the wharenui, or meeting house, part of the development, and are 63.2mm thick, 4.3m high and 1.9m wide, and are specifically designed for their clarity and thermal performance.
“These windows are certainly the biggest pieces of glass we have ever handled in New Zealand in our 50 years in business, in terms of both their weight and their thickness,” says Wight Aluminium Director Gavin Wight.
Wight Aluminium specially designed channel glazed aluminium frames to hold the windows and worked with Metro Glass to carry out the fragile installation on the Hamilton campus. To lift the windows for installation, they also had to look internationally to source a specially designed sucker bank with 16 cups, twice the size of anything they have used before.
Metro Glass also had to modify one of their trucks to transport the glass to Waikato because of its thickness.
“It’s a fabulous looking building and jobs like this make things a bit different. It’s the reason we get up in the morning,” says Gavin.
Wight Aluminium, a New Zealand owned family established company, has been involved with The Pā project since its design phase, working alongside architects, Architectus.
“We saw the project’s early sketches with Architectus and thought wow, it was definitely a project we wanted to be involved with. It’s a signature project for us,” says Gavin.
The glass from Poland met the project’s specifications for its clarity and ability to keep the heat of the sun out of the building. Getting the glass out of Europe however was a challenge during a global pandemic with global shipping delays, says Gavin.
“All glass is sourced from overseas at some point, but you would normally be sourcing it from the Middle East or Asia or sometimes the United States. This glass is called full low iron glass which means it doesn’t have any of the green tint you often see in glass,” says Gavin.
This particular product is made by only a few manufacturers in the world and the company in Poland is one of them.
Wight Aluminium and Metro Glass have worked together to provide all the windows for The Pā, including the windows for the wharenui.
Gavin says about 30 people in Wight Aluminium’s team have worked on The Pā project.
“We’re still proudly made in New Zealand and we’re proud of our regional roots and the contribution we make to the regions through employment and the projects that we do like The Pā,” says Gavin.
In its 50 years of business, Wight Aluminium has also worked on Hamilton’s Downtown Plaza in 1994, the Te Rapa Dairy Factory, Claudelands Event Centre and Waikato Regional Council’s new building in the Tristram Street precinct. Wight has also worked on the SkyPoint building at Innovation Park.