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Factory fault forces HK airport reglazing

DELAMINATION OF all 70,000m2 of glazing on Hong Kong new international airport's passenger terminal means that it must all be replaced.

The problem was noticed in November last year. It has so far occurred in 25% of the 13,800 panes and is accelerating. According to Hong Kong Airport corporate affairs officer Chris Donnolley the delamination is not structural and does not pose safety risks.

Glass was supplied by Pilkington Flachglas of Germany. Subcontractor Nippon Light Metal, which installed the glass for main contractor BCJ, has been cleared of liability. Pilkington, which won the £9.38M contract in January 1996, is currently reviewing its R&D programme.

Senior facade engineer at Buro Happold Stephen Tanno, has been appointed to carry out an independent investigation. There is no date set for an official report. Replacement of the glass will be staged, beginning in 1999.

The fault is thought to lie with the complexity of the manufacturing procedure. The bespoke glass was required to meet the high performance standards set by the terminal's designer, Mott Consortium which comprises Mott MacDonald, Foster & Partners and BAA, to deal with typhoon winds and satisfy acoustic and lighting requirements.

The defect will not affect the airport's opening. After an official ceremony today, the airport goes operational four days later after a mammoth removal job which will see all vital equipment shifted from the old airport to the new overnight.

Andrew Mylius

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