What is a glass curtain wall?

Architectural curtain wall refers to the outer walls of buildings that are usually installed on the main structure’s exterior and cover the main form’s surface. It is a non-load-bearing part of the building, consisting of panels and supporting structural systems. A glass curtain wall is an architectural curtain wall that uses glass panels as its primary material.

Glass is a popular material for modern architectural curtain walls due to its numerous advantages over traditional building materials. These advantages include being lightweight, having a good artistic effect, strong against wind pressure, and being energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Architects deeply appreciate these benefits.

What are the glass components involved in the glass curtain wall?

There are various forms of modern glass curtain walls, including composite curtain walls, glass curtain walls, inclined glass curtain walls, frame-supported glass curtain walls, full glass curtain walls, and point-supported glass curtain walls. The types of glass components used in these curtain wall structures include face glass, fin glass, spandrel glass, and glass windows. Let’s take a comprehensive look at these types of glass components.

Face Glass

Face glass is an essential component of glass curtain wall structures, whether it is a frame-supported glass curtain wall or other forms of glass curtain wall. It serves as the decorative glass on the curtain wall and is not a load-bearing part of the building.

The type of face glass used is usually selected based on architectural design and usage requirements. Common types of face glass include tempered, laminated, coated, and others.

Glass Fins

Glass fin(ribs and lamellas) is a unique accessory for all-glass curtain walls, which are added when the height of the all-glass curtain wall exceeds 4 meters. They are installed on the full-glass curtain wall at the same height as the large glass and perpendicular to it. The glass fins act as a bending resistance and serve as structural, functional, and decorative facade elements. They make the glass wall stronger and improve its bearing capacity.

The glass used for glass ribs is generally tempered glass and laminated tempered glass. The glass thickness is usually determined by design and calculation, with 19mm being the most commonly used thickness. Moreover, according to industry standards, the cross-sectional thickness of glass ribs in all-glass curtain walls should not be less than 12mm, and the cross-sectional height should not be less than 100mm.

Glass fins

Spandrels Glass

Spandrel glass is an opaque glass used in the non-transparent parts of a curtain wall. Its primary function is to act as a transition area between the opaque and transparent parts of the curtain wall, providing additional light shading, enhancing the overall aesthetics, and reducing direct glare. Spandrel glass is often used with backing panels for better light control and appearance.

The specification and size selection of spandrel glass mainly depends on the design and actual needs of the building curtain wall. The size of the spandrel glass should match the backing panels and fixtures of the curtain wall to ensure overall aesthetics and stability. The size of the spandrel glass can vary from a few centimeters to several meters, depending on the design and actual needs of the curtain wall, such as the building’s area, structure, use, and light requirements. Spandrel glass’s specification and size selection also needs to consider its bearing capacity, thermal expansion coefficient, light transmittance, and other factors.

Spandrel glass

Glass Window

Various window types are available for curtain walls, including the out-swing window, sliding window, and fixed louver with operable windows behind the glass. Each type has its unique features and applications.

The out-swing window is a common type of curtain wall window that can tilt outward and provide good ventilation and natural lighting. The sliding window is an easy-to-operate window that can be opened and closed without occupying interior space. The fixed louver with an operable window behind the glass combines the features of a fixed louver and operable window, providing good ventilation and lighting while also allowing for temperature and light control.

Choosing the appropriate curtain wall window type requires considering multiple factors, such as building design, usage scenarios, ventilation needs, and lighting requirements. The design of curtain wall windows should be coordinated with the entire curtain wall system to ensure that the appearance and functionality of the whole building are optimized.



Glass curtain walls are famous for modern building design due to their aesthetic appeal and functional benefits. Selecting appropriate glass components and window types for a curtain wall requires careful consideration of various factors, including building design, usage scenarios, ventilation needs, and lighting requirements. Stay tuned for more related articles.