Sapphire’s New Approach to Balcony Design

19th March, 2021

Sapphire Balconies are a leading manufacturer of balcony systems for residential applications and believe that modern methods of construction (MMC) and offsite manufacture are the future of construction.

Not only does MMC provide a range of benefits on-site, but it also tackles concerns including sustainability and helps establish a ‘golden thread’ of information as recommended in the Hackitt Report. Using MMC processes, Sapphire Balconies delivers balconies embodying quality craftsmanship and time-saving processes to construction sites around the world.

The Golden Thread

In her report, Dame Judith Hackitt identified the information gap between design and build and recommended what she called a ‘golden thread of information’. Using the COACH suite, a full suite of digital tools, Sapphire ensures every balcony has a fully traceable journey from design, to manufacture, to install. With the Passport app every balcony goes through a series of checks every step of the way and cannot continue until it meets high quality standards.

Benefits of Offsite Manufacture

In addition to the use of digital tools, Sapphire’s offsite construction methods benefits from consistency along the production line and controlled conditions reduce the opportunity for error.

Factory environments also entail regular checks allowing faults to be found and remedied. Sapphire’s Glide-On™ Cassette® balconies are delivered fully-assembled, including balustrades. They are then simply craned into position and slide on to steel support arms for final attachment. Minimal further finishing is required, making this time-saving installation so fast that it is possible to fit more than 40 balconies in a single day.

Cutting Carbon

Key to Sapphire’s Glide-On™ Cassette® system is its lightweight, modular construction, which reduces forces on the anchors and connections that transfer the load of the balcony to the structure of the building. This is particularly important, for example, where structural elements are less rigid than reinforced concrete.

Sapphire’s Glide-On™ Cassette® balconies are made of laser cut and mechanically fixed aluminium, making the balcony one third the weight of a comparable all-steel design. The smaller load may reduce the number of supports required, the number of façade penetrations and the risk of cold bridging or damp problems. This significantly cuts the environmental 1 2 impact of the building by reducing occupational heat loss when compared to heavier balconies.

Design Flexibility

Sapphire Balconies has added its muscle to the modular revolution by giving architects wide scope in balcony design – combined with the reliability of modular construction. Sapphire has developed a lightweight cantilevered solution that makes a balcony as much at home on any virtually any MMC construction as it is on a traditional reinforced concrete structure. This gives architects the confidence to design balconies that balance all requirements – visual, practical and financial. This is true for a wide range of MMC materials and practices, such as cross laminated timber (CLT) frames, steel frames, thin concrete slabs and precast wall panels.

To read full article, go to Offsite Magazine issue 27!

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