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February 1, 2012

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New law to curb glass-walled buildings in city

GLASS exterior walls are now banned from any future buildings that overlook road crossings, under a local law introduced today.

The legislation will also curb the use of glass walls in buildings including schools, hospitals and residential blocks.

This seeks to reduce the use of exterior glass panels in Shanghai buildings - a trend that started locally more than 25 years ago - due to safety concerns.

In recent years, there have been a number of incidents in which glass walls in high-rise buildings have fallen to the ground.

Aging adhesive and loose window frames have been blamed for the problem, which is worse during hot weather.

Under The Shanghai Glass Wall Management Act, future buildings constructed next to crossings cannot include glass walls.

The legislation also prohibits them from hospital, school, kindergarten seniors' home and residential buildings of two or more floors.

And in buildings where glass walls are permitted, improved safety standards will apply, the law states.

Only laminated glass - which is safer as it holds together when shattered - is permitted on buildings in busy areas, under the law.

As laminated glass is more expensive than standard glass, some builders have been reluctant to fit it.

Urban planners will also apply rigorous criteria to any applications for glass walls on future projects, officials said.

And under the law, constructor companies are responsible for the safety maintenance of glass walls for five years after a building is complete.

Safety checks

Building owners are also required to run safety checks and pay for maintenance expenses.

Since 1985, 3,655 glass-walled buildings have sprung up across the city, with another 555 under construction.

A citywide inspection found 35 buildings have "serious" safety problems with glass walls and 440 others show risks. Repair work is under way.

Last May, glass walls fell from three buildings in a single day. No one was injured but dozens of cars were damaged.

Four glass walls fell off a local skyscraper last August, injuring one person.

And in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, a 19-year-old woman had to have her leg amputated after it was nearly severed by a falling sheet of glass last July.


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