alustrades, while being a vital aspect of a completed building from a decorative and safety point of view, are often taken for granted by the building’s day-to-day occupants. The concept of a balustrade dates further back than most forms of modern architecture and can be found in ancient structures around the globe. While the concept of a balustrade seems fairly straightforward to most, it is only once you examine the definition of a balustrade do you realise how important they are to a completed building. A balustrade is a row of balusters topped by a rail, serving as an open parapet, as along the edge of a balcony, terrace, bridge, staircase, or the eaves of a building. The origin of the term baluster comes from an unexpected source. The word baluster comes from the Italian word balaustra, which translates as the pomegranate flower. The traditional balaustra was shaped like a flower bud or partially opened flower. This shape was used in a variety of elements such as furniture and candlesticks, to name a few. Architecture, like so many other crafts, was influenced by the shape of the pomegranate flower and used it when designing railings and staircases.
The word baluster comes from the Italian word balaustra, which translates as the pomegranate flower
What makes balustrades such an interesting topic is the fact that they were used throughout the world for many centuries. Balustrades have been found in remote areas in India and Assyria. Assyria claims some of what are thought to be the oldest examples of balustrade designs. Balustrades were very popular in the Renaissance period and were commonly found in a form similar to what we consider a balustrade today. Ancient examples of famous buildings that include balustrades are the Medici palace in Italy and numerous buildings designed by Michelangelo and Bernini. Traditional balustrades were made from wood and clay. An explanation of this choice of material is due to the types of materials that were available at that time. As modern construction brought about new techniques and materials, modern balustrades are now commonly made from steel, glass, wood, stone and other robust materials. The purpose of balustrades is two fold, something that many individuals often fail to realise. Balustrades have a safety function and a decorative function by finishing off the building, staircase, bridge, terrace, balcony or eaves of a building. In South Africa balustrades are governed by the strict regulations set out by SANS that dictate a variety of aspects that the balustrades need to comply with. Many contractors fail to take these codes into consideration and often leave the occupants of the building at risk. If you’re unsure if your balustrade installation complies with the regulations set out by SANS, feel free to contact us at Steel Studio and we’ll happily assist you to ensuring that your balustrades comply to all the applicable codes.