The beauty of modern architecture and interior design is characterised by light, open spaces achieved through stunning glass faҫades and transparent panels inside. In workplaces, the effect is a bright and airy space ideal for social environments where workers feel connected. Considering the impact that attractive surroundings and natural sunlight can have on our mental and physical health, workspaces like these can help to create a happy, empowered workforce who enjoy the place they call ‘office’.
But using glass heavily throughout interior designs typically comes with a caveat: lack of privacy. The age-old solution for this is curtains and blinds, but these present their own problems. In contemporary designs, such fittings are likely to look at odds with the modern aesthetic. Blinds can be difficult to use and often break. Meanwhile, both curtains and blinds can be difficult to clean and are left to collect large amounts of dust and bacteria as a result.
These challenges will be all too familiar to designers of laboratories and pharmaceutical facilities, where the need for an easy-to-clean and distraction-free environment is even more pertinent. Many have accepted that glass simply may not be practical, but recent developments in privacy glazing mean this doesn’t always have to be the case.
Over at leading manufacturer of privacy glazing Eyrise, for example, the innovative i350 privacy glass is engineered with dynamic light crystal technology, offering complete transparency at one moment and full privacy at the next, all from the push of a button. Natural light is maximised in both scenarios, meaning you no longer have to choose between sunlight and privacy.
Making the most of your lab space
“By using i350 privacy glazing in a laboratory, you get all the benefits of social interaction and proximity to people, but also the option for a place you can do focused, detailed work such as cell culture. These activities require a lot of concentration and no distractions from outside,” says Natalie Carrick, business development director and head of sales at Eyrise.
“Privacy glazing could also be installed in areas where clients visit by providing a view into a production space,” Carrick adds. “Visitors can look in and observe the pharmaceutical processing or manufacturing, but the glass can also provide confidentiality depending on the nature of what’s going on.”
Privacy glazing is a great option for meeting rooms too. “When you want to have a confidential meeting, you can flick a switch to allow for privacy or have the partition connected to a building management system. For example, someone might book a meeting room and choose the privacy mode in order to have a confidential space. Equally, when the room is not being used, you can allow the light to flow and open the space up,” explains Carrick.
i350 also helps to keep meetings confidential by reducing sound by up to 41 decibels. Back on the laboratory or production floor, pharmaceutical processing equipment can often be loud. i350 can help to mitigate this, creating a more comfortable environment to work in every day.
Maintaining impeccable hygiene is also of critical importance in such spaces. i350 glass can be sanitised like a normal window, plus the need to frequently clean blinds or curtains is eliminated.
The future of glass is here and it’s ideal for the pharma sector, but how does it actually work?
Light crystal technology
Eyrise is a subsidiary of Merck, who pioneered the use of liquid crystals in 1904. This technology is at the heart of Eyrise’s i350 product, where cholesteric liquid crystals are placed between two glass sheets. A low voltage repositions the molecules randomly, scattering the light and instantly transforming the transparent glass into an opaque panel.
With i350, absolute transparency is provided from all angles when the panel is in see-through mode – a key point of difference between this product and previous ones on the market.
For the world of pharmaceuticals, i350 creates the potential for designers to achieve contemporary yet functional workspaces. Such laboratories can be customised depending on the needs of the staff, interchangeably and instantly creating the perfect environment for them to excel with their life-changing work.