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Minimalist Windows with High Rigidity Steel Profiles: Transparency and Subtle Design

After centuries of using wood for the development of window and door carpentry, the Rationalism of the 20th century began to adopt a new material for these purposes: steel. Driven by industrial production, and promoted by architects such as Adolf Loos, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, steel was evolving to generate increasingly thin and resistant frames. However, efficient and low-cost materials, such as aluminum and PVC, gradually began to replace its widespread use, increasing the size of the frames and losing steel’s “clean” aesthetic when applied to a growing architecture of large glass paneled facades.

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At present, new technologies have refined their production processes, developing minimal profiles of high rigidity and precision, which take full advantage of the transparency of the glass and deliver new comfort and safety features. We talked with Jansen‘s experts to deepen our understanding of their application in contemporary architecture.

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Cortesía de Jansen

Of Swiss origin, the company Jansen was created in 1923, the same decade when steel was first intensively incorporated into different architectural elements. Since those years, the company has been dedicated to the research and development of steel systems that today align with new technologies and architectural needs, forming a catalog of more than 3,000 different profiles, available in galvanized, stainless, and corten steel.

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Cortesía de Jansen

The unique characteristics of steel provide useful solutions for particular conditions. For example, they are useful for high traffic doors (due to the need for resistance when constantly opening and closing), for security doors and windows (due to their resistance to bullets, impacts, and fires), and for monumental facades (which must withstand the weight of large panes of glass and be tightly closed for thermal and acoustic insulation).

In relation to passive fire protection, there are fire-resistant steel profiles that meet the standards of F30, F60, F90 and F120 in fixed elements, and F30, F60, and F90 in doors. These profiles, together with the appropriate glass, prevent the spread of fire, smoke, and heat, protecting evacuation routes and the integrity of the buildings.

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VISS side-hung/pivot door. Image Cortesía de Jansen

Compared to aluminum, steel is 3 times more rigid. Therefore, to achieve its strength, aluminum profiles must be 3 times more “large”. In the case of monumental glass, aluminum must be reinforced to resist its weight, delivering a coarser aesthetic and losing many times over the benefits and performance expected from large windows.

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Town House in Antwerp / Sculp[IT]. Image © Luc Roymans

One of the great attributes of steel is its ability to be welded, thus reducing its buckling lengths by dispensing with articulated joints. Welding also allows the addition of elements, cleanly and without the need for screws, expanding design possibilities and permitting structures with angles and curvatures.

The smaller Jansen profiles have a 15 mm front and are recommended for the construction of partitions or very thin windows. In contrast, the largest profiles reach a section of up to 60×280 mm and up to 10 meters long, making them useful for the construction of curtain walls without the need for intermediate supports.

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Joan Maragall Library / BCQ Arquitectura. Image © Ariel Ramírez

The material is supplied in electro-galvanized bars inside and outside, ready to be processed in the most diverse shapes and sizes, and can be finished in any texture and color, depending on the needs of the architects and the client. Steel is a sustainable material that can be recycled many times without losing its attributes and requires less energy for its production.

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Janisol Arte 2.0. Image Cortesía de Jansen

According to its particular dimensions and properties, each steel profile has been designed to work together with its glass, delivering an integrated solution for doors, windows, and complete facades.

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PCA-STREAM’s Cluster / PCA-STREAM. Image © Claire Curt

Look below for a series of projects that have used windows with minimal profiles to generate a clean architecture and well-lit interior spaces.

‘Kanaal’ in Wijnegem / Stéphane Beel Architects

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‘Kanaal’ in Wijnegem / Stéphane Beel Architects. Image © Jan Liégeois

Futurium Berlín / Richter Musikowski

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Futurium Berlin / Richter Musikowski. Image © Schnepp Renou

Bauhaus Dessau Museum / Addenda Architects

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Museo Bauhaus Dessau / Addenda Architects. Image © Thomas Meyer

Eperon d’Or, National Museum for Shoes & Brooms / Compagnie O Architects + Sabine Okkerse + Geert Pauwels

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Eperon d’Or, National Museum for Shoes & Brooms / Compagnie O Architects + Sabine Okkerse + Geert Pauwels. Image © Tim Van de Velde

The Runkelsteiner / JMA

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The Runkelsteiner / JMA. Image Cortesía de JMA

PCA-STREAM’s Cluster / PCA-STREAM

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PCA-STREAM’s Cluster / PCA-STREAM. Image © Claire Curt

Puma Energy Paraguay Headquarters / Ruiz Pardo – Nebreda

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Puma Energy Paraguay Headquarters / Ruiz Pardo – Nebreda. Image © Jesús Granada

Joan Maragall Library / BCQ Arquitectura

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Joan Maragall Library / BCQ Arquitectura. Image © Ariel Ramírez

Social Housing in Paris / Bigoni Mortemard

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Social Housing in Paris / Bigoni Mortemard. Image Cortesía de Bigoni Mortemard

Zwarte Silo / Wenink Holtkamp Architecten

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Zwarte Silo / Wenink Holtkamp Architecten. Image © Tim Van de Velde

Escuela Tecnica Superior De Ingenieria (ETSE) / Francisco Candel + Luis Carratalá

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Escuela Tecnica Superior De Ingenieria (ETSE) / Francisco Candel + Luis Carratalá. Image © Arturo Ferrer

New Hanfbach School Möglingen / mvm+starke architekten

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New Hanfbach School Möglingen / mvm+starke architekten. Image © Roland Halbe

LocHal Library / CIVIC architects + Braaksma & Roos architectenbureau + Inside Outside + Mecanoo

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LocHal Library / CIVIC architects + Braaksma & Roos architectenbureau + Inside Outside + Mecanoo. Image © Stijn Bollaert

Town House in Antwerp / Sculp[IT]

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Town House in Antwerp / Sculp[IT]. Image © Luc Roymans
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