Irish say no to PVC windows

Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:41 pm

On the subject of old glass (which just came up on the Pearse Street thread), Trinity College are refurbishing all of the sash windows in the Front Square of the college at the moment. That’s fine, but a lot of old glass is being lost during the work. And, worse, I believe they’re using fake-old glass in place of destroyed actual-old glass. The whole of the northern block of the square has been completed so far.

Almost all of the windows in Front Square are the original 1760s ones (apart from a few in the centre of the College Green block, which had been replaced with plate-glass sashes 100 years or more ago, then replaced back to multi-pane sashes again in the 1960s) and they contain a lot of old glass.




Image

Here are a couple of panes of incredibly old crown glass (in the top left of the sash) in Front Square. The circular pattern indicates that they were cut from a disc. This type of glass stopped being made in the middle of the 19th century, so these panes are at least 150 years old.




Image

Then this is the more commonly-seen old glass, called cylinder glass, made from the mid-19th up to roughly the mid-20th century (when it became possible to make perfect, blemish-less glass). It is ripple-y and often contains pock-marks.




Image

This is one of the sash windows that has already been refurbished in the north block of the square. There are no panes of old glass left except for the one on the left in the middle, which I believe to be fake-old, as it has a different appearance; it’s really just a normal pane of glass with deliberate ripples.

I’m going to try and speak to the Conservation Officer about this, because it is not really acceptable that irreplaceable historic hand-made glass is being destroyed and possibly replaced with pretend-old glass in a key historic institution of the city like this. Trinity’s original sash windows & old glass are famous – they appear on the front of a book on the history of Irish windows and glass by Nessa Roche.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:03 am

Indeed they do, and of course Craig makes reference to the Library windows also, however I wouldn't be quite as quick to jump on Trinity. Roche's book, as fine a publication as it is, doesn't quite explain enough the variety of methods used, nor the popularity of certain types of glass, especially in Ireland - many references are made to UK glass or their methods that were imported, but with little expansion on their extent of use here.

The broad characteristics of crown glass and later glass such as cylinder and plate are very well explained, however the precise methods used in manufacture and more importantly the quality of output is not fully entered into. I'm no expert, but have come across countless examples of glass that cannot be neatly slotted into the categories as set out in the book, glass that looks like poor quality crown or high quality cylinder, glass that has both swirls and dimples, glass that has a highly dimpled surface, and glass that is much less blemished - all in a host of 19th century buildings of many ages.

Even comparing two images, look at the difference in quality between this and this - both supposedly cylinder glass:

Image

Image

Presumably Trinity is early cylinder or 'broad' glass, while Pearse St is a later improved version (?)

Admittedly your other pic does look dodgy Devin, but that could just be a dodgy pane of crown - it's hard to know. I find it hard to think that Trinity would replace what even it recognises as one of the great treasures in the city with poor reproductions. The conservation project thus far looks like a job well done, even if the giant Venetians look a bit chunkier than usual now. You can certainly see the acres of priceless crown in the College Street window anyway!
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:08 am

Graham Hickey wrote:The broad characteristics of crown glass and later glass such as cylinder and plate are very well explained, however the precise methods used in manufacture and more importantly the quality of output is not fully entered into. I'm no expert, but have come across countless examples of glass that cannot be neatly slotted into the categories as set out in the book, glass that looks like poor quality crown or high quality cylinder, glass that has both swirls and dimples, glass that has a highly dimpled surface, and glass that is much less blemished - all in a host of 19th century buildings of many ages.
Yes, I was being quite blunt in my categories - there is of course a lot of variation in all types of glass. I don't read much on it. I really just pick up what I know from observation.


Graham Hickey wrote:I find it hard to think that Trinity would replace what even it recognises as one of the great treasures in the city with poor reproductions.
Shocking as it is, that seems to be exactly what’s happening. I was just looking at that magnificent Venetian facing College Street earlier today, and there isn’t, I believe, a single pane of actual old glass left in it. Most of it now is modern glass, with a few panes of, I’m sure, fake-old glass.

It’s quite incredible how this could have happened. The refurbishment of the windows is about one-third complete now, possibly a bit more. All of the College Street façade has been done - including both Venetians at the front corner - and also the windows of this block which face into the square, and they've now moved onto the southern block (havr just begun).

The planning reference for the work (which also included a lot of internal refurbishment) is 5947/04, and it was granted permission last July.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:20 am

Were these windows like this before the restoration though?
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:32 am

No, most definitely not. Have a look tomorrow if you can. Even if you didn't know there had been old glass there before, you can see the thumb marks on the ground floor windows where new glass has been pressed in.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:49 am

Some of the Trinity windows below. The majority of the West Front’s old panes, certainly in the non-restored windows, seem to be an early form of cylinder glass, with that typical wrinkled and warped texture like the skin that forms on hot milk:

Image

The only pane of 1750s crown glass above is that in the very top right corner with the very apparent swirls.

The crown glass featured in ‘The Legacy of Light’ seems to be the exception rather than the rule right across the entire 1750s Parliament Square complex incl the West Front. Many non-restored windows also appear to feature quite an amount of modern glass too, though it’s difficult to say how much such was the light at the time. This un-restored W F window seems to feature nearly all modern glass, with only two single panes of cylinder in opposing corners:

Image

Otherwise though, un-restored windows with lots of modern glass do not seem to be that common.

This restored window on the W F features entirely modern glass which is very wavy in appearance, with the exception of a single surviving cylinder pane in the lower sash.

Image

All of the other few windows that have been restored here so far also seem to feature lots of this strange glass. I don’t know if it was here before the restoration. Here’s another example, though this time a lot more cylinder:

Image


Moving inside to the Front Square and the northern block, and again a mixture of cylinder and modern wavy stuff in this restored window:

Image

Pretty much all of these windows in the northern wing feature exactly the same mixture of modern wavy and old cyclinder. No evidence of crown at all. Many of the upper windows in the northern block also feature 1830s horns which might explain the early cylinder in the older sashes below such as that pictured.

So all in all, a difficult one to call without examining all the glass exceptionally closely. There appears to be a difference between very flat modern glass in some windows and more wavy modern glass in others as pictured. If this difference could be confirmed, and the wavy glass distinguished as being only in restored sashes, then there could well be something fishy going on. Either way that wavy modern stuff isn’t very attractive – gives the impression of bendy plastic sheeting. Still, it does seem all of this was there before the restoration, and in the windows I looked at I didn't come across any really dodgy stuff like that you pictured Devin.

Admittedly crown can look like plastic too in certain light – here’s some lovely stuff surviving high up in the side elevation of the Chapel. Note the blatently modern pane in the top left and the cylinder pane in the bottom left:

Image

Also some stunning cylinder above the central doorway of the northern block:
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby StephenC » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:24 pm

You guys amaze me sometimes with your knowledge of something as obscure (pardon the pun) as glass. I would never have imagined that the subject could be so complex. I think its would certainly be worth while contacting the Heritage Officer at DCC regarding this. It certainly woldnt be the average planners highest priority when assessing works such as these but I accept that the glass should be retained as much as is possible. Well done for opening a window onto the subject :rolleyes:
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:06 am

Graham Hickey wrote:Some of the Trinity windows below. The majority of the West Front’s old panes, certainly in the non-restored windows, seem to be an early form of cylinder glass, with that typical wrinkled and warped texture like the skin that forms on hot milk:

Image
Yes, most of the remaining old glass in the not-yet-restored windows of the West Front (and its rear, and the east block) is cylinder, with a lesser amount of crown – not surprising as it is a much older method than cylinder.
It would be tragic to lose all of this, but, imo on the evidence of the restored northern block, that’s exactly what’s going to happen unless the situation is intervened upon.

(As you say some windows don't have that much old glass - just a couple of panes - but overall there is a fair bit left, especially in the upper floors.)




Moving inside to the Front Square and the northern block, and again a mixture of cylinder and modern wavy stuff in this restored window:

Image
I can’t agree with you here Graham. As far as I would be concerned the ‘cylinder’ you refer to is ‘fake old’ glass. It’s some type of agricultural glass, used perhaps for greenhouses and the like. It is used because it looks a bit like cylinder glass. It is just rippley]very odd [/I]pane of genuine cylinder seems to be surviving the restoration (there is one in the middle right of the above pic), but certainly none of the rare and more valuable crown.

I’m pretty sure the ‘wavy modern’ or ‘bendy plastic sheeting’ (good description!) glass - which makes up the majority of glass in the restored windows - is also new; it looks new and it doesn't seem to exist in any of the not-yet-restored windows. As you hint, perhaps it is intended as a (crap) imitation of crown glass?



Image


This also, as far as I would be concerned, is the ‘fake old’ glass.


[align=center]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[/align]


So, in short (I think), all of the former very-flat-modern / cylinder / crown glass of Trinity’s windows is being replaced with a combination of wavy-modern and fake-old glass, with maybe a very small amount of genuine old being saved and reinstated.

The reason for this I reckon is - just like so many things in Dublin at the moment - a need for speed … the number of windows to do versus the contract deadline; when they’re dipping the windows, removing the paint, splicing in new wood etc. it would just take too long to remove the old glass without breaking it … easier to just knock it all out and put new glass in when the work on the sash frame is complete …

The job is proceeding apace. As I said earlier, having completed the northern block, they’ve now moved onto the southern block, and in the last couple of days, a load of sashes have come out of the 2nd floor of the square facade to be taken away for ‘restoration’.

I’ve spoken to the DCC Conservation Officer and also a DoE conservation official and the situation is going to be investigated on Tuesday. Will update.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:16 pm

Good news - thanks.

So all in all there's five types of glass in question here:

. Swirly crown - easily distinguished 1750s glass
. Highly dimpled cylinder - appears to be original, but later
. Modestly dimpled cylinder - questionable provenance, may be mock-historic, may be later again cylinder
. Flat modern glass - probably from the 1960s
. Wavy modern glass - questionable when it was installed


Regarding the cylinder, as you see it Devin the more modest stuff is replacement mock-historic glass installed post-restoration. I'm not so sure - as we have seen, the quality of cylinder glass varies greatly. When making a higher quality product more attention was paid to the flattening-out process to ensuring it was as flawless as could be achieved. Similarly earlier cylinder glass pre-1830s/40s was also of a lower grade to later cylinder, so this could also account for the variety of type in the Trinity windows - very evident as you say in the upper sash of this window:

Image


I'd also have to question the notion of the wavy modern stuff being post-restoration - it is after all in this non-restored West Front window, in abundance in fact:

Image


I do see where you're coming from though regarding the allegedly mock-histoic cylinder - there is a very clear difference between it and the more intensely dimpled glass. But it does beg the question - if some of the original cylinder is being kept, then why destroy other original panes? It's either hampering efficiency or it isn't. Above all though, I just cannot believe for a second that Trinity would even think about attempting to do this, in spite of their record elsewhere on campus. These windows are its most prized asset outside of the Library building - it's akin to cutting the pages of the Book of Kells down to size beacause they won't fit in the display case.
Hence I remain fairly optimistic that nothing untoward is going on, and that all the glass dates from a variety of periods - however naive it may be...

Yes the southern block is underway now - which means they'll spread back out onto the southern West Front before long where there seems to be a good amount of crown remaining. Here's the southern Square block now with removed windows as mentioned:

Image


Also the giant southern Venetian on Colleg Green being restored back in January:

Image

Image

(thought I'd better airbrush out the contractor's name ;))
Work was only getting started above, so there'd be no evidence of glass replacement here either way.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:02 pm

Graham Hickey wrote:Above all though, I just cannot believe for a second that Trinity would even think about attempting to do this, in spite of their record elsewhere on campus. These windows are its most prized asset outside of the Library building - it's akin to cutting the pages of the Book of Kells down to size beacause they won't fit in the display case.
Hence I remain fairly optimistic that nothing untoward is going on, and that all the glass dates from a variety of periods - however naive it may be...
A hi-profile instance of replacement of Georgian sashes/old glass with new sashes and fake-old glass would not be unknown, for e.g. in the rear bows of the National Gallery Georgian house:

(Re Trinity work: an inspection has been made by DCC Conservation Office - that's all the info I have at the moment)
.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby PVC King » Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:54 pm

The TV ad for this is surely the most annoying peice of TV ever made

It's Safestyle UK's famous BOGOF deal - for every window or door you buy, you get another one... Absolutely FREE!


http://www.safestyle-windows.co.uk/offers/offers.htm

http://www.safestyle-windows.co.uk/home/media.htm

Who doesn't remember a Safestyle TV advertisement?

and the infamous Window Man, together with our own distinctive style, you'll either love 'em or hate 'em! Either way, everybody remembers a Safestyle TV ad


It is clear the pvc has a price advantage however so had asbestos for industrial roofing
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Tue May 02, 2006 1:55 am

An interesting and current case of reproduction Georgian sashes being used to replace later Victorian frames is Dundalk Garda Station – an imposing Italianate pile sited prominently at the top of a small hill in the town (below). Built c.1852-54, it was still too early to have plate glass windows, especially in the regions, and so Georgian sashes were installed with typical small horns.

Image

Over the course of the late 19th and probably early 20th century, some of the Georgian sashes were replaced with plate as can be seen below, with the grids simply cut out in a make-do-and-mend fashion :), though nearly all of the side elevation windows remained intact.

This picture was taken a few months ago, literally the day after the completion of what I thought was a conservation job on the windows, they having been cleaned up and painted over the previous few weeks as part of wider restoration including a magnificent reroofing job.

Image

But after all that effort and expense was put in, bizarrely, as soon as the job was done - literally within a week or two if not mere days - the plate sashes were then all taken out, to be replaced with repro Georgian grids! It’s almost as if someone just came back from Dublin and discovered what was all the rage in ‘conservation’ jobs down south, and decided they’d like a bit of that too thanks very much! It’s nice to know at least that the Gardaí have so much cash floating about they don’t know what to be doing with it.

I don't have a picture of all the new windows, but by and large I think a good call was made on this. It is of course important to respect later alterations to buildings, but if you’re going to restore a set-piece of architecture to its original state and unify the design as originally intended, as well as give the casual viewer an insight as to the age of a building (i.e. not deceive through expansive plate sashes) it’s mostly worth doing, provided the windows being replaced are not unique in themselves or are otherwise worthy of preservation.

However it would appear in this case that the plate window frames have been entirely replaced with new, possibly even double-glazed Georgian frames, giving a very blank uniform appearance: the panes no longer flashing in the light as they should. Perhaps that’s a good thing though – from a casual viewpoint the building has been reunified but has not lost its integrity, as on close inspection you can still see what’s original and what is very much not :)
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Jean » Wed May 03, 2006 3:52 pm

I am in a 1940's house that unfortunately has pvc windows - I am clueless about this sort of thing and have had Marvin in to quote - I am still waiting on their estimate but I know they are pretty expensive - he mentioned a figure of 20k!. I see from posts above Dansk is mentioned as a cheaper but as good alternative to Marvin - has anyone anymore info on this company? ? I am hoping to get aluminium clad cream windows (don't shoot me - most of the road have these and they look great) Can anyone else recommend agood window company that do these or any window company at all? I am so desperate I am just googling everything and flicking thru the yellow pages...........whilst googling I found this site and registered in order to ask your learned opinions! Any info at all would be appreciated - save me from my pvc windows!
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Wed May 03, 2006 9:38 pm

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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Jean » Wed May 03, 2006 11:48 pm

Thank you for your response - I spent my afternoon reading the entire forum and noticed that people asking for freebie advice don't get many replies so I appreciate it!
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Thu May 04, 2006 1:07 am

How strange - only today I was passing through Mount Merrion Avenue and adjacent roads, surprised at the amount of cream aluminum that has cropped up in 1930s and 1940s housing there. Must be the latest D4 fad. It looks decent enough, certainly better than PVC.

However there was an interesting case of two houses right next to each other - one had cream aluminum frames while the other had timber frames painted exactly the same colour. There was little contest in my view as which looked better: the timber looked so much more substantial, architectural and simply more pleasing to the eye than the aluminum. Whatever the undoubted benefits of the latest versions of PVC and aluminium, they still cannot help looking like mere flat inserts in buildings. The lack of depth or relief in their frames can rarely match the more structural, sturdy appeal of timber that makes windows look like a part of a building rather than thin sheets stuck in to cover over the window holes.

Devin wrote:perverts


Ah now Devin, don't be too hard on yourself :D
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Devin » Thu May 04, 2006 5:08 am

Graham Hickey wrote:hard on
Eh?
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby KerryBog2 » Thu May 04, 2006 5:23 pm

Jean,
Finished our house last year and used Danske windows. Found that Marvin are fine if you want a basic sash (sliding up/down) window but any different style increases the price considerably.
The Danske windows have a very dense grain in their timber and the powder-coated aluminium on the outside is very well finished. The glazing bars are an integral part of the window structure, rather than that horrid “ornamental” strip. They can be ordered pre-painted on the inside if required. A feature I like is the lack of a mullion (centre bar) for the side-hung windows – the ones we have. In Ireland Danske are primarily a source of industrial windows but I believe they are branching out into residential. They have a showroom off the M50 in Dublin. I’ve no links with either Danske or Marvin.
Their English language web-site is rather poor and a new one is under construction. In the meantime look at
http://www.idealcombi.dk/Default.aspx?ID=777
Kerrybog
PS. I disagree with GH above that all modern windows look like flat inserts
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby KerryBog2 » Thu May 04, 2006 5:41 pm

First attempt at posting a pic. ......
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Jean » Thu May 04, 2006 5:49 pm

That is great info - thanks a million! My windows aren't sash and there are two huge bays so probably why the price is so high, Will definitely get Danske out to quote pronto -

Jean
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Sat May 06, 2006 5:24 am

Thanks for the link KerryBog2 - they appear a very professional company.
So are these the windows in your new(ish) house you mentioned before? A pity about the rather obvious double-glazing strips, they are of course regulation now anyway, but overall I agree they look very well. Would it be possible to get a picture of the all-important aluminium to the exterior?
(glad to see you're not a pearl candle-bulber :))

Agreed not all modern windows look flat, nor did I say this was the case. Rather it is the standard aluminium and PVC replacement frames that look like bland inserts - they contribute little to the appearance of buildings. The same can be said even of steel windows too, only in their case the multitude of glazing bars often employed generated their own decorative effect that helped overcome this.
But modern timber and alu-clad timber windows are generally highly flexible and can be adapted to many building forms and architectural contexts in a way that conventional market-driven muck cannot.

Thank you Devin for your as-ever refined contribution re the horn. You can be quite a pane sometimes, pulleying people's legs - everything just has to hinge on smut when you're around, yet everyone else can keep it at bay, so just shutter it would you. You'll be getting a box the next time, and feel the full weight of it let me tell you. Keep your acts of fenestration to yourself in future.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby KerryBog2 » Mon May 08, 2006 11:59 am

Mine eyes glazed over with those puns GH but I do agree with the comments on the metal strips; however, usually they are not that obvious, either the cameraflash or the evening sun accentuated them. Incidentally, the ceiling rose and cornice are from the Old Mould Co. in Dun Laoghaire, they have losts of plaster goodies. (yeah, I can hear mutters of "pastiche" already.)
Outside photos - colour is an off-white on the aluminium, we did not want the full glare.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby Jean » Mon May 08, 2006 2:02 pm

nice house!
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby GrahamH » Tue May 09, 2006 1:29 am

Lovely windows KerryBog2 - esp being a big fan of that continental casement format :). What makes them of course is the feature that is also mentioned on their site: the all-important sight-lines of the functioning parts being maintained with the rest of the frame, so there's no bulky or otherwise different opening parts evident. Makes the world of difference.
Also shallow casements like these generally don't alter the appearance of a building when opened like top-hinged windows do, as the angle created is hidden at the top and bottom of the open window maintaining the straight lines of the surrounding facade, whilst top-hinged ones crudely break them by their angles blatently protruding from the wall.

You'd still know yours are alu-clad, but not in a bad way though :). Nice use of tan paint there on the skirting - adds something different to what is usually a rather predictable yellow.
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Re: Irish say no to PVC windows

Postby KerryBog2 » Tue May 09, 2006 12:13 pm

Thanks Graham, they were expensive but worth it. Fell in love with that type when we lived in France. (Best flat I ever had, ground floor of what once was a convent, parquet, cloisters, parterre, the lot! ) Anyone who has had to paint small frame windows on a regular basis would chose the alu-clad and put up with the textural difference. The tan tone on the skirting (pediment?) is the same as the gutter; my idea was to paint the entire cornice the same colour (to visually integrete the gutter) but herself did not agree, said it would be too heavy and the mid-course/stringer would be like a belt. As she held her views rather strongly, peace reigned. Next time round I will paint the vertical face of the cornice and live with it for a while before a decision is made.
KB
PS the vent covers have since been fitted
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