While large architectural projects such as building façades certainly garner attention, composite applications don’t have to be massive to turn heads. Check out these two eye-catching European structures.

Banco Popular – Madrid

When the architectural team of Arquitectos Ayala and façade consultant ENAR designed the auditorium for the new headquarters of the Banco Popular in Madrid, their goal was to create a fully transparent glass room with minimal visible support. The contractor for the international bank’s auditorium, Portugal-based Martifer Metallic Constructions, developed a special system to hold in place the huge panes of double structural glass that make up the exterior wall.

To provide a dedicated space for the language interpreters sometimes needed for meetings in the auditorium, the architects designed another box-like structure to suspend from the ceiling at the back of the room. They chose glass for the walls of this interpreters’ box to maintain the sense of openness in the room; they selected composite materials for its top and bottom to provide a strong and lightweight means of supporting those walls.

The architects specified the use of composites for the box, which measures approximately 24 feet long by 9.8 feet high by 8.2 feet wide. “This material allowed us to manufacture pieces of great dimension without joints, with good finishes, lightweight and meeting fire requirements,” says Miguel Angel Ruiz, commercial director at Martifer Spain. A metallic substructure connects the two composite structures to the glass walls.

Spanish composite manufacturer Carbures and Swedish core material developer Diab built the composite sections. Carbures constructed two composite cases, one forming the ceiling of the box and the other the floor. Each case consisted of three curved GFRP panels measuring 24 feet long and 3.6 feet wide. The panels, made through a vacuum infusion process, included a Divinycell PET 60 core in thicknesses of 55 mm and 12 mm.

One of the most challenging aspects of the job, according to Diab, was finding a resin with the required additives for fire safety. The company chose Crestapol® 1213A, a urethane acrylate resin from Scott Bader. The combination of the resin and Divinycell PET assured that the composite cases met the necessary fire, smoke and toxicity requirements.

The composite cases, each weighing only 265 pounds, and the glass for the interpreters’ box were brought to the Banco Popular site for assembly and installation. The completed box, now in place, will provide a quiet working space for interpreters while maintaining the light-filled ambience of the auditorium.