A system using Pilkington’s extra clear glass is now in operation to protect Italy’s Basilica of San Marco in Venice from high tides.

Located in the lowest area of Venice, the Piazza San Marco is one of the most famous monumental squares in Italy.

However, with the average high water in the city regularly exceeding 60 cm, the cathedral runs the daily risk of being damaged by high tides.

The Basilica’s pavement and antechamber (Narthex) in front of the main entrance has become submerged 250 times in recent years.

To keep the cathedral safe from damage, an architectural solution, using Pilkington glass, has been installed to provide an enhanced protection to the current system, which is only activated when the rise of tide exceeds 110 cm.

While a long-term solution is under construction, the steel and Pilkington Optiwhite glass watertight barrier will protect the structure from erosion.

Pilkington Optiwhite is a low-iron extra clear float glass with very high light transmission.

As a three-ply glazed panel, it is suitable for use in humid environments and capable of improving not only the mechanical characteristics, but also the post-breakage behaviour of the glazed panels.

The choice of material also provides unobstructed views over the square and cathedral.

In addition, the finished project has been load-tested to extremes so that in the unlikely event of a breakage of one of the plies, the whole structure will remain intact and continue to protect the cathedral.