Soul Apartments, Surfers Paradise

Soul tower, Surfers Paradise - Balustrades, sliding doors and fixed windowsSoul Apartments were constructed at an exclusive location by the water at the heart of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. The tower reaches 77 storeys, including 2 levels of commercial premises at the base, one level of leisure facilities for the resident population and the tower above devoted to lifestyle apartments.

The 243m high building was designed by DBI Design PL and built by Grocon, under the direction of the Juniper Group.  The tower is situated at the end of Cavill Avenue – the popular shopping strip at Surfers Paradise. G.James Glass & Aluminium won the contract to supply the design, fabrication and installation of the glazing – including windows, doors, louvres, curtain wall, sun blades and balustrades.

The Residential Tower Facade

The residential tower consists of 288 apartments with a variety of glazing types – a curtain wall face, balconies with sliding doors and windows. The sheer curtain wall façade was produced using the 650 Series glazing system, and fitted between the concrete support columns. Sky blue laminated glass contrasts well with the white columns in the marine setting.  The majority of the project’s extrusions were powder coated (finished) in Eternity Steel – a dark finish that blended into the shadow lines.

The balcony glazing utilizes the 445 Series sliding doors, 450 Series fixed windows and 415 Series louvres. The balustrading for the tower was done with 571 Series. At the top of the building, the shape of the balustrade glass was raked from level 60 and above to support the curved aspect. The raked balustrades required special layouts and bracketry specific to the level they are installed on to make the curve regular.

The tower colour scheme contrasts vivid blue sections with predominantly white areas.  The blue areas were created using sky blue glass, the same as the sheer wall. The white areas use a Cool Grey glass. The Balustrades match the colour coding of the area they fall in, and intensify the look with a reflective coating.

Sun blades are installed on the upper portion of the tower.  The south face at the sub penthouse level has large angular alpolic blades fitted to the Juliet balconies, creating a visual feature and angled to block harsh glare.

Commercial Levels

On the lower commercial levels, 3 floors high, G.James supplied the ceramic printed toughened glass (installed by others) and balustrading. The ceramic printed toughened glass for the awnings has a creeping fern pattern.  The 571 Series balustrades for the first 3 floors were internal and external, and include the the shopping plaza. 

QuickAlly Access

QuickAlly Access Solutions (a G.James business) supplied scaffolding to replace damaged balustrade, recently.  The affected glazing occured on level 6 and level 75.  Both balustrade glazing occur on balconies with limited space to provide a cantilever, so solutions were suggested and engineered to find the best approach. Ladder beams and other Systems Scaffold products were used for a suspended platform to provide safe access to the high risk heights.

The Effect

The glazing on this project makes a stunning impression from inside and out, and could not be accomplished without a high level of design and coordination. It was a great opportunity to contribute to an iconic building.

Capturing Light in an Urban Space

natural light -elev - east This residence has recently been constructed in one of the laneways of Fortitude Valley, just outside the Brisbane CBD in Queensland. Using smart orientation and well designed glazing features, a light and airy modern house has been constructed.

This urban block with an area of about 200m², fits a house with an approximate 90m² footprint. The architect, Andrew Wiley proposed a house that is naturally lit with a spacious feel in this confined perimeter. This was done working with interior designer Benta Wiley, to maximise the effect of light play on the artworks and sculptures intended for the house. The builder, Nick Chatburn & Co, worked in conjunction with G.James Glass & Aluminium to provide the glazing for the project.


There are two façades taking advantage of open areas outside to maximise views and natural sunlight entering the 3 storey building. In particular the east elevation has a glass wall the height of the building.  This wall provides naturally light to an atrium that every room in the house opens into. Glass fins support the expanse of frameless glazing. The effect of this light well gives the house a spacious feel, enhancing the flow and communication between living spaces.

Blue glass intensifies the colouration of the sky outside – used in the atrium and sliding door/windows on the north and east faces. These large windows are made from sliding doors that enable 2100 high windows.  As a safety barrier, glass balustrade is installed to the interior. This maximises the amount of light that flows into these rooms.

Shutters sit on the outside of these windows, promote a modern feel to the houses exterior.  Internally the shutters provide an insulative shade barrier, blocking the harshest rays yet letting light filter through the gaps and cooling air that flows between them. The detailing for these doors was developed at G.James – they sit on a large structural angle that is fixed to the outside of the building to give them the floating appearance.

Natural Light Features

Natural light penetrates from one side of the house to the other with the use of glass internal doors, slit windows strategically positioned to the south and west faces, and glass roof lights. There are two of these with opaque glass on the ground level that give the office and laundry a bright lift.

The third glazed sky light is a glass canopy located at the top of the stairs, leading onto the roof. An opening at the top of a space such as the atrium draws rising hot air up and out, naturally cooling the entire house and enhancing air flow through it. The glass canopy leads to a stunning outdoor area overlooking the neighbourhood, made of self cleaning glass.  Being completely see through, it doesn’t create a visual barrier in the centre of this space, but divides the different areas up for their individual uses.

Bringing the Best of the Outdoors Inside

The entire house incorporates the enjoyment of being able to make the most of the Queensland outdoors and lifestyle – starting as you enter the house.  The front door to the property is through a wide frameless glass door.  This electronically operated pivot door opens into what seems like a courtyard complete with a well planted pond. Over the pond is another frameless sliding door operated automatically, allowing lush green plant life outside to become part of the welcoming committee. This space is in fact the inside of the atrium.

Interior Inspiration

The house is an inspiration, and a beautiful example of what can be achieved with limited space in a medium density urban area.

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Products by G.James

  • Entry – toughened clear glass into 475 series surround framing with frameless pivot door
  • Atrium – Structurally glazed laminated blue glass with fins into 450 series surround framing. (External blind by builder)
  • Hinged Internal and Back Doors – Toughened glass frameless doors into 475 series framing and glass channel hydraulic hinges.
  • Auto Sliding over fish pond – Toughened glass frameless door with 475 series glass channel surround frame.
  • Dining Window – 131 series offset sliding window, 3.6m long with a 1.2m sash.
  • Sliding window / doors – 245 series commercial sliders with blue laminated glass. Sliding shutters are made from G.James extrusions by a third party, and incorporated into the 245 sliding track. The glazing sits on large angle bracketry on the external face of the building to give it the seamless appearance.
  • Down stairs sky lights – white translucent glass structurally glazed to stainless steel pressings.
  • Glass roof / canopy – Sides are Low E  heat strengthened laminate on Stainless steel stand off.  Roof top glazing is self cleaning, Low E heat strengthened  laminate with polished SS pressings.
  • Fixed glazing – white translucent glass in 450 series framing.
  • 3 Shower screens – frameless shower glazing – one of each style -bay window, single shower screen panel and square base.
  • Extrusions finished in a stone grey powder coat.

Glass for a V.I.P. – Very Important Polar bear

G.James Glass supply for Polar Bear Cub Viewing Panel

Polar bears are one of the most popular bears that we endear ourselves to.  Large and cuddly, yet so fierce. It is with fascination and awe that we can look on these creatures and catch a glimpse into their lives. Here in Australia, you can only do this from a viewing platform that has a clear, wide and very secure glass barrier.

With news of the resident female polar bear, Leah’s, pregnancy, Sea World engaged the builders, Astute assist them with the construction of a new polar bear enclosure. G.James Glass & Aluminium were sought for the supply of the glass viewing panels.

A new addition to the Sea World Polar Bear family

Leah has been living with Nelson and Hudson (who are twin brothers) in a large enclosure at Sea World. The prospect of the cub came as a little surprise, as Leah was not known to be pregnant until late into her 8 month gestation period.  Cub twins were born in May 2013 to Leah and father, Nelson. Unfortunately, only one has made it to this age, but Henry is doing very well. A new enclosure was required as the mother and cub needed to be separated from the male bears. Leah needs to care for her offspring and males have been known to try and eat cubs.

Designing a New Enclosure

Work on a new enclosure was started immediately. The planning and layout for the enclosure began 10 years ago, but the final design still needed to be resolved.  It was done in cooperation with the polar bear keepers, Sea World officials and biology professionals to ensure the safety and well being of the new inhabitants.

The majority of the enclosure is concrete and timber with the glass viewing panel making up the majority of one wall – all products need to be non toxic. The layout was designed to be aesthetically reminiscent of a polar bears natural habitat and in keeping with the existing enclosure.  It includes two ice wells (ponds where ice can be left for exploration and play), a waterfall, chilled sea water pool, trees and three cooling misters. The pool has loops in the bottom of it which toys can be attached to for the polar bears to play with.

The polar bear entrance is a wide area that is partially hidden from the viewing area, and so rocks have been strategically positioned to discourage the polar bears from hiding in this corner.  This area was in its final stages of preparation when we visited, and mobile scaffolding made by QuickAlly Access Solutions was being used to support the workers completing the job.

The more serious aspects of the pen are an isolated waste catching system, security door locking mechanisms, and a safety escape niche. Polar Bears are never tamed. Keepers cannot be in an enclosure with them, as they are at risk of being attacked.   The security door prevents the polar bear door to open while keepers are in the enclosure, and in case of failure, the niche only fits a person, and has an alarm button in it to highlight help is required.

The risk factor when in close quarters with bears makes the viewing panel not only important for visitors, but it is the only area they can be easily watched by their keepers at eye level.  All photography for recording the animals behaviour and publicity purposes are taken through this panel.

The Viewing Panel

The type of glass used in the polar bear enclosure is specified. The glazing has to be thick and secure enough to ensure the safety of the polar bears, and visitors. Four layers of glass, laminated together ensure this. The glass is around 40mm thick and each of the 8 viewing panes weigh 495kg. Polar bears will scratch at the glass, and these scratches need to be polished out every couple of years. The edges of the glass, and gaps in between need to be specially designed. Polar Bears will test edges and explore gaps, so they are constructed to minimise their ability to grip and claw areas.

On completion of the enclosure, officials from the Australian Institute of Marine Science inspect the final result. Any potential hazards or dangerous surfaces are highlighted and addressed prior to the polar bears being introduced to their new surrounds.

The Cubs Entrance to Public Life

Leah has been monitored daily since the birth of her cubs. She was living in her “maternity ward” and exercising in a special enclosure for the polar bears until September. Her new home was opened to her in mid September, and it was expected she would explore it for a week or two before she and the cub were comfortable with their new surroundings.  It has since been opened to the public.

G.James Glass supply for Polar Bear Cub Viewing Panel

In Comparison to a Wild Life

In the wild, a mother will lie in a dormant state (similar to hibernation) in a den made inland of snow and ice for about the second half of the gestation period. After birth, the cubs are reared in the den for the first couple of months of their lives before being introduced to the world. The cubs have about 2 weeks to gain their strength and learn to walk over distance and run before journeying to the sea. They spend between 1 ½ and 2 ½ years with their mother before going out on their own.

Click on the images for more Polar Bear facts.

Glass By Definition – Part 1

Glass Bike - Glass Definitions - G.James Glass and AluminiumThis article will assist in demystifying the types of architectural glass used in buildings. The names we use for the different glass types are generally attributed to some part of the manufacturing process. In part one of this two part series, we look at basic glass products to highly processed glazing options.

Some History on Architectural Glass

Since clear glass was being first made in about 100 CE, in Alexandria, the Romans began using it architecturally. This began the long list of manufacturing methods and specialised names attributed to the different types of processes – Broad sheet, Crown, Polished Plate, the list goes on. In 1848, a crude form of float glass was patented by inventor Henry Bessemer by pouring glass onto liquid tin, but it was very expensive. It wasn’t until 1959 that this idea for float glass was made in a practical method – a discovery by Sir Alistair Pilkington that now dominates the worldwide commercial production of architectural glass products.

Basic Float Glass Products

The differences between the basic glass types are formed in the glass making “float process”. Soda, lime and silica as well as broken glass called cullet are the major components used in the manufacture of glass. These components are mixed into a batch before being heated to approx. 1500°C in a furnace. The molten glass is then floated on a “tin bath” –  a layer of molten tin.   As the glass begins to cool it solidifies and is drawn out of the float tank in one continuous ribbon.  The glass enters the annealing or cooling lehr – it is the controlled cooling (annealing) of the glass that allows it to be cut and further processed.

Float Glass or Annealed Glass

These terms are interchangeable and refer to the respective glass manufacturing processes.  They describe glass in its basic form, before secondary manufacture.  In a general sense, Annealed Glass is used when comparing heat treated glass to non heat treated glass.

Clear Glass

Clear Glass is a piece of transparent float glass, typically uncoloured.

Tinted Glass

Tints are glass with metal oxides added to give it a specific hue. The tint or colouration is through the body of the glass and therefore darkens with an increase in thickness.  Apart from aesthetics, tinted glass is used for reducing heat gain through the glazing system. Common tints include green, blue, grey and bronze.

Super Tints

Super Tints are designed to reduce heat gain while allowing the maximum amount of light through making it a performance product. The heat absorbing qualities also make them prone to thermal stress (caused by temperature difference), and a thermal safety assessment is recommended to determine if heat treating is required (see Secondary Manufacture below). Colours include Azuria, Super Green and Super Blue.

On Line Coated Glass

Sometimes referred to as pyrolytic glass, metallic oxides are deposited onto the glass surface in the float glass tank during manufacture. These coatings can increase the performance of the glass with a range of reflective and low E products available. They are extremely hard and durable, and can be used on their own or heat treated without affecting the coating.

Low Iron Glass

The green colouration in glass is due to the iron content found in silica or sand. Low Iron Glass has less than 1/10th of the iron content of standard glass and are considered ultra clear. Low Iron Glass is ideal for use in display cases, painted glass applications like splash backs or in areas where high clarity is required.

Deli Bend or Curved Glass (Annealed)

Glass can be curved as float, by laying the glass over a mould before annealing begins. It is commonly used to make butcher or delicatessen benches (hence the name), furniture and curved architectural glass that is to be laminated.

Processed Glass

Glass requires finishing before it can be used in location, or sent for secondary manufacture. Commonly, this includes cutting to size, and edging, but there are many alternatives in both these fields.


Almost all glass will require cutting to the job size requirements, but this process also includes cuts to produce as irregular shapes, such as raked windows, shower screens with cut outs for fittings, glass walls needing spider fittings and custom profiling.

  • Various regular and irregular shapes required are cut with a CNC machine.
  • V Grooved cuts in the face of glass, or brilliant cut, provides an alternate decorative finish.
  • Drilling – Holes from 5mm to 100mm can be drilled into the glass, but the hole diameter must be equal to or greater than the glass thickness. Holes can include a countersunk rim. The hole edging has a ground finish.
  • Shaping – glass can be cut at special shapes or profiles to custom requirements.

There are edge clearances that are relative to the glass thickness for the size and location of cut outs and holes drilled into a sheet of glass. Please contact your manufacturer for exact positioning limitations.


Edging provides a range of options for the perimeter of the glass to suit its application. Different edges are applied for ease of installation, to assist with further processing or to achieve a look.  One common process is arrissing – a term used to describe the method used to grind the sharp edges of glass to make them safer to handle.

  • Plain cut glass, is called Clean Cut
  • Glass to be toughened requires Rough Arris edge work – arrissed edges with a rough ground finish.
  • Smooth Arris is similar to the rough arris, but with a smoother finish to the edge.
  • Flat Grind or Flat Smooth edges are machined smooth edges suitable for silicone butt jointed applications.
  • Flat Polished is the neatest finish used for exposed edges of glass.
  • Mitred Glass has a 45 degree bevel on one side with an edge finish suitable for mitred silicone butt joints.
  • Round and Polished edge work gives the glass a curved edge for exposed perimeters.

Secondary Manufacture

Secondary Manufacture takes the various types of float glass and changes the properties in a range of production processes.

Heat Treated Glass

A general term used to describe the process of further strengthening or testing glass in a second heating and cooling process. Its is the way or speed in which the glass is cooled gives the glass stronger properties, and length of heating to test the glass.

Heat Strengthened Glass

Heat strengthening is a treatment of glass that induces a high compression layer on the surface.  This is done by cooling the reheated glass at a specific rate. This process makes glass twice as strong as annealed glass, although it is not considered safety glass.

Toughened or Tempered Glass

Toughening glass also induces a high compression layer in a similar process to heat strengthened glass. To toughen the glass, the heated glass is cooled very quickly. This makes it 4 to 5 times stronger than annealed glass of the same thickness. Certain thicknesses are considered A grade safety glass – refer to standard AS 1288.

Heat Soaked Glass

Toughened glass can spontaneously shatter due to small imperfections in glass called Nickel Sulphide inclusions. They are rare, but undetectable, and so, to ensure the glass will retain its form, heat soak testing is done. The glass is heated for a period of time which induces the Nickel Sulphide inclusions to rupture if they are present.  Glass that passes the test, has a markedly reduced possibility of failure once in location.

Curved Glass (toughened)

Curved Glass that requires toughening is bent in the toughening process.  A series of rams fold the glass to the desired shape. Tighter corners and soft curves are achievable.

Off Line Coating

High performance glass has a coating applied to its surface. Different looks can also be achieved with colour and reflectivity. Although large steps in technology over the last couple of years have increased the durability of off line coatings, some are quite delicate, and cannot be heat treated.  Others need to be used in an IGU, so the coated side of the glass is sealed from the elements and physical damage.

Laminated Glass

Laminates are made of two or more pieces of glass permanently bonded together with interlayers. Interlayers are made up of various materials to give the completed glass additional properties, for example, acoustic, colour and UV eliminating. Laminated glass is considered A grade safety glass.


IGUs consist of two panels of glass fitted together with a hermetically sealed air space in between to provide an insulative layer protecting against thermal and acoustic issues. The air in the gap is dried to prevent condensation issues.

Other common glass terms

The following terms are not processes done to manufacture glass, but are descriptions of how they are classed, rated and used.

Double Glazing

Double glazing is when two pieces of glass are used with an air gap in between. Special framing suites with glazing pockets front and back are considered double glazed, as are jockey sashes and IGUs.

Monolithic Glass

Monolithic glass is a single pane of glass as opposed to laminated, double glazed or insulated glass units.

Safety Glass

Safety glass is processed glass that is manufactured to satisfy the requirements of AS/NZS 2208 for safety glazing. Laminated and toughened glass are rated Grade A. Wired glass is rated Grade B.

Security Glass

Security Glass is designed to repel violent attack. They are usually combinations of laminated glass that incorporate toughened or polycarbonate combinations. They are not necessarily considered Safety Glass.

Part two to be released in November –

I hope you found these descriptions useful. In part two of this article, thermal glazing terms and properties will be discussed. It will include the terms used to measure and describe performance, what basis the measurements are made from and a comparison of data commonly used – glass only vs whole of window data.

Project Update: Queensland Institute of Medical Research

QIMR Herston Rd Entrance

Transforming an existing medical research facility in Herston, QLD to align with the surrounding complex.

Queensland Institute of Medical Research Phase 3, or QIMR ph. 3, is the refurbishment of the Bancroft Centre. It is located just outside Brisbane’s CBD next to the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital.

The Bancroft Centre, owned by QIMR  is contracted to be built by Watpac. The project is designed by a joint architectural venture between Wilson and Wardle architects.

G.James’ Role

This project initiated as a design and documentation contract, in which G.James were required to advise and recommend the design of glazing works, survey the existing building and detail the information via formal drawings. Due to the positive contributions and coordination of this aspect of the project, G.James were awarded stage 2 – the supply and install of the glazing works.

The Bancroft Centre

The Bancroft Centre is a 14 storey concrete building with feature beams and columns criss crossing the building dividing up the individual windows and balconies spread across the elevations. At ground level, a large lobby window and sub station louvre is also part of the upgrade.

The medical research undertaken at the centre is highly sensitive. In the pursuit of the solutions being investigated, the building will be partially occupied by the client throughout the construction process. This will affect parts or entire floors at different stages. Close coordination of on site works, monitoring clients requirements and ensuring safety for all, dictates progress.

External Refurbish

The basic concrete structure remains, with the southern concrete face being removed and extended out towards Herston Road. The extensions are supported by a grid work of steel with concrete platforms. The face lift is to extend down the western side to the existing balconies and on the eastern side to the recently erected QIMR central building.

The architectural intent is to create a look that reflects the existing Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre (CBCRC) located on the other side of the QIMR central building. To do this:

  • The main façade on the curtain wall is being replicated as much as possible.
  • The visible rendered sheer walls are being covered with Alpolic cladding to wrap around to the front of the balconies and underside of the soffits in a similar fashion to the CBCRC building.
  • Glazing in the balconies and lobby were replaced to reflect the more natural colour scheme and full height layout of the CBCRC.
  • Louvres are being modernised and/or introduced to cope with the needs of the buildings updated research capacity, the design of which is in keeping with the other QIMR buildings.

G.James has followed stringent processing and approval of the glazing samples and design to ensure these principles are followed adequately.

Design: Energy and Acoustic Efficiency

Renovations on old buildings require them to be upgraded to meet the latest energy efficient guidelines. To accomplish this, the Bancroft refurbishment required higher performing windows than the original.  Another important design element to consider was that the Bancroft Centre is situated at what is now one of Brisbane’s busiest intersections.

Fronting onto Herston Road, a stones throw from Bowen Bridge Road, bus ways and the Inner City Bypass, shows the heightened necessity for acoustic protection.

The main curtain wall façade utilises the 651 series with highly efficient IGU’s made from Solarplus engineered glass with an acoustic laminate internally to assist with noise deadening. The visible features of the curtain wall replicate that of its neighbour providing a plaid pattern of greens and silver that provide the desired sister building effect.

The balconies use 450 framing with 475 door systems for the balconies’ hinged and sliding doors. A custom solution was introduced with laminated glass incorporating a thick 1.14mm acoustic laminate and energy tech inner lite working together for maximum efficiency and sound protection.

An environmental advantage to being involved in the design of the cladding, minimised the wastage by designing the cladding widths to suit what was commercially available. Approximately 85% of the panels could be made to their natural width.

Unusual Design Elements

The lobby or main entry spans a height of two stories. It has concrete features penetrating through the facade. This required some innovative design to incorporate these obstacles while maintaining the ability to replace the existing framing in a short turn around of a week. 650 framing was used in the lobby to achieve this.

The curtain wall is usually lifted into place by a mini crane positioned on the building.  It is dedicated to the curtain wall install.  On QIMR however, a tower crane had been fitted on site to accommodate phase 2 construction, and is also being used for phase 3.  This meant that fixing the curtain wall had to be timed in between other site deliveries and other uses required of the crane.

This has been a unique project with G.James contributing very early in the design process to assist in setting our the buildings requirements for our own and adjacent works. The achievements so far have culminated with smooth progression though out the project with the mutual assistance and close coordination between Watpac and G.James.

Looking ahead

G.James role at the Bancroft Centre is to be finalised approximately mid 2013, and the entire project to be competed by mid 2014. Tours of the QIMR facilities are available to the public. You can book a tour on the QIMR website.