You see glass used a lot in design. Often when building around nature or other “awe inspiring” forms. Of course, if it’s used in it’s clear state, the designer believes that seeing through is important in the design. But what does glass really mean in design? Lately I’ve been looking for designs with glass, making designs with glass, and overall just thinking about why we actually use glass. What is the theoretical reason behind wanting to see through our divisions to the outside or inside world. I see glass as the material that acts as a connection, creating a response to the environment rather than just a way to allow light into or outside of a space. I’ll be using the pictures above in my explanation as context.
Glass as walls or ceilings allows everything inside to reflect the environment the home is contained in. This is a direct connection to the light entering the house, and colors of the surrounding vegetation and rocks. Using glass, it leaves less design needed inside the home because nature is doing all the work which is the foundation for sustainability. If there were solid walls in place of the glass, there would be a barrier between the residents and what’s outside. The people living here obviously feel connected to nature and appreciate it enough to have it a part of their home 24 /7.
Since glass is naturally found in nature I think combining it with wood is the second piece to the connection I mentioned. Though we don’t see trees with glass in between them as portrayed by the walls in this house, there is space between each tree, each branch, each leaf, and each needle. This space divided by the form or each tree is what allows you and I to see through to other trees, creating a forest. The tree being the individual that responds to its environment. And not just because it’s a tree like the rest, but also because it allows the other trees around it to be seen.
In the house above, this is exactly what the glass is accomplishing. It allows the house to respond to it’s environment inside and out. From the outside, you can see in or see through. In which you can see through to either the wood inside, or completely through to the adjacent outside area. Having the house respond in this way not only makes it fit better into the environment, it puts the residents inside of this environment completely. They become as much of a form creating the natural environment they are living in as the trees around and beams inside of the home. The forest does not just sit still, it sways and moves with the surround forces. Because this is a home it also has dynamic movement on the inside, and because it’s walls are glass, this is portrayed on the outside. What glass does is allow a response to any surrounding. In this case, you’re not building a house to live in, you’re creating another natural piece to the environment you are contained in.