The inventors of structural glass have created a unique product which can help regulate sleep cycles through the power of natural light, while protecting us from the sun’s harmful rays.
The new range, called Solstice Glass, has been produced for domestic and commercial construction by London-based Cantifix, who brought structural glazing to the market almost 30 years ago.
For the past five years, Cantifix – run by brothers Charlie, Matthew and William Sharman – has sponsored research by Oxford University into the beneficial effects of daylight on human biology, with studies taking place on the Danish Island of Bornholm and in Sweden’s arctic north.
This research involved the creation of The Photon Space: a self-contained, standalone glass living space designed to improve wellbeing, avoid ‘biological darkness’ and help us reconnect with the natural world.
The specifications for Solstice Glass are based on scientific evidence gathered from the Photon Space project, as well as other pioneering research led by top scientists in this developing field.
Blue light in the narrow band width of 450 to 485 nanometres wakes up our body clocks by suppressing melatonin, the hormone essential for sleep. Solstice Glass has been designed to allow these wavelengths through unhindered, a feature which would not be true of all glass.
Featuring low-iron manufacturing, with a high performance laminated outer sheet to filter out harmful UV light and an acoustic laminated inner sheet, Solstice also creates safe, beautiful, peaceful and functional home spaces through its use of glass walls, floors and rooflights.
As we all spend more time at home in domestic offices, Cantifix believe Solstice Glass can play an important role in addressing negative mood and promoting wellbeing for current and future generations.
Charlie Sharman, CEO of Cantifix, said: “With autumn bedding in and winter on the way, the dark and dreary days are here to stay. Between our work on the Photon Space and during this extensive lockdown period where we have been indoors, we wanted to see how we could pack in as many features into the glass which promote the benefits of natural light, whilst protecting our customers from harmful rays at the same time.
“To maximise our wellbeing and health, we need natural light. Our bodies thrive on it; it’s our primary source of Vitamin D, and it governs our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. It is a vital component of the signature of life.
“However in the average UK home only 12 per cent of the outer walls are glazed, meaning we live in relative gloom compared to the natural light out of doors. As a result many people have no access to a critical burst of morning light, keeping us in perpetual biological darkness.
“While our Solstice Glass can’t bring the sun back, it will at least increase your access to natural light, which will allow your home to be rejuvenated, reinvigorated and ready for the months ahead.”
Charlie set up Cantifix in 1986 with his brother William Sharman – co-author of the book ‘The Engineering of Structural Glazing’. Fellow directors of the company include their brother Matthew, who joined in 2007 as finance director, executive director Charlotte Fox and director of operations Trisha Wadds.
Charlie Sharman said that while the costs of glass construction were marginally higher than traditional methods such as brick and mortar, the overall benefits should not be underestimated.
“Glass walls are not just stylish, they actually offer a significant health benefit which in turn can bring many further cost advantages to individuals, businesses and families,” he said.
“The science has only really been understood since the turn of the 21st century – and it has taken time to come into the consciousness of consumers and those in the property sector.
“But the coronavirus pandemic, as with many areas of society, is accelerating change, and if Solstice Glass can become a feature of a changing world then we’re happy to help.
“This is the first time that all of our years of expertise and significant scientific research have been rolled into one product which we offer as standard. We’re passionate about helping people lead better lives in their homes, relieving stress and improving mental health. So to be at the forefront of what could be a step-change in construction… it’s an exciting time.”