A groovEe innovation means perfect views from stylish Belgian apartments

The architects Segers and Moermans designed two apartment buildings in the heart of the historic city of Hasselt in Belgium that resemble tall, narrow bookcases. One of the most important aspects of the design of the Books 1 and Books 2 buildings – which contain 37 apartments – was to make sure the glass railings on the balconies were almost invisible, so that they wouldn’t interfere with the visually clean lines of the apartment structures.

This meant that the glass railings had to be free of visible fixings – pure glass, in other words. And that challenge was solved by an innovative system called groovEe, developed by a leading international stair and balustrade specialist, EeStairs.

The system also means that glass railings can be installed much quicker and cheaper than with standard fixings. The typical cost saving, using the groovEe system for glass railings, is one hour of labour per square metre of glass railing or balustrades.

“Normally, glass railings or balustrades sit in clearly visible metal upstands or fixings,” explained Mark Geertz of EeStairs. “But with groovEe, you don’t need that, because we have an extremely secure and accurate way to embed the grooved metal channel straight into the concrete so that it can’t be seen. The glass railings and balustrades are seated in the invisible groove – and so they keep their clean, sleek image.”

To achieve this, EeStairs supplied the Book apartments contractors, STRABAG Belgium, with precisely accurate formwork for the concrete edge sections of the balconies, complete with the slots for the groovEe metal channels. And there’s no need to install rainwater drainage pipes – the formwork supplied by EeStairs already has pre-formed drainage holes for the concrete.

This has a major cost benefit, for several reasons: the contractor does not have to make the channels in the concrete, and risk inaccuracy; they don’t have to transport the channel sections of concrete to the site, and risk damaging them; there’s no need to drill into the concrete on site; and the glass railing panels can be installed very quickly, without and additional fixings.

And thanks to that, the occupants of the Book 1 and Book 2 apartment complex get a perfectly clear view across Square and parts of the historic centre of Hasselt.