Initially glass was used by the Egyptians as a decorative material to decorate pottery objects and other artefacts. Although the exact history of glass in unknown, during the 17th century the development of lead glass used in large glazing windows made a step forward which brought the glass into the history of construction.
During 1st century, ‘cast glass’ were first used in Europe which were made by pouring molten glass in a mould and then cooled. These cast glasses were widely used in the buildings of Rome and Pompeii.
While cast glass were being used in 11th century, ‘crown glass’ came into existence, crown glasses are nothing but sheets of glass, and they were used in windows with longer span. But the only disadvantage was they are glasses with distortion quality.
In 17th century, coloured glasses were made by adding colours to the cast glass and were used in churches and cathedrals.
During the period of 11th – 18th century, coloured crown glasses were used, they were dramatic stained glasses. Majorly used in windows during Gothic and Baroque period.
Basically, glazed windows were considered to be a luxury element because of the manufacturing and assembling process.
In 1958, ‘Float glass’ was manufactured by Pilkington and Becker. They made sure that this type of glass doesn’t possess distortion quality.
The period of Industrial revolution made a huge impact in the era of glass in architecture. During this time, development of new construction methods was made. They started using glasses not only in openings but also in walls.
Initial Stages of Glass Construction In Buildings
Engineers and Architects started using glass in construction because of their transparent and lightweight properties. Most of the high-rise buildings included curtain walls in their exterior façade. Some pioneer structures are listed below.
The Crystal Palace, London, England
The first large scale construction of glass was The Crystal palace, for which the construction was started in 1850 and completed in 1851. It was built for the Great exhibition of 1851, in London, England. The building was a glass and cast-iron structure and the design of Paxton was selected among 254 entries for the construction. The entire structure was lightweight, economical and derived concepts from giant leaves of the Victoria Amazonica Waterlily and was built in a short period of time. It included use of 300 000 sheets of glass.
Oriel Chambers, Liverpool, UK
The first ever structure to use glazed curtain wall construction, designed by Peter Ellis in the year 1865. This building was considered to be one of the finest buildings of Liverpool with non-structural façade considered to be cantilevered from the building’s cast iron frame.
New Hayden Planetarium, NY, United States.
Referring the structure as ‘Cosmic Cathedral’, The Rose Centre for Earth and Space, houses a spherical theatre floating inside a glass cube. This is considered to be the most outstanding recent architectural construction designed by James Polshek. This is one of the finest exampled of how glass has attained a remarkable place in the journey of construction.
Government Press Building, Chandigarh, India
Architect Edwin Maxwell Fry was the one to design and construct India’s first Glass building. He was one of the members in the team lead by Le Corbusier in planning Chandigarh. He was assigned to design the buildings in the Government sector of the city. It was built in 1953 and was designed with the notion that instead of it looking like a factory, it was deigned as something that was iconic in nature, and was also a symbol of modernity in sync with the character of the city.
The building’s fully – glazed façade lets in the shadow less northern light into the building. This building not only accommodates the functions wisely but it also has a significant visual outlook, which was a double treat to the architecture of it.
Use Of Glass In Contemporary Architecture
Glass, which is considered as one of the green elements in construction is widely used in buildings to reduce the use of electricity during day time. With wide variety of options to be used, it helps to blend the interiors with exteriors, it’s stained property and access to natural light has increased its market usage in Contemporary construction. It has recycling value which allows to reuse the broken glass in many possible ways. Due to its advanced technology of heat build-up control, it can maintain the inner temperature of the building during both summer and winter periods.
Glasses are not only used in doors and windows, they are used in walls, roof, skin of the building which contribute the façade. They are known for their translucence character, which makes the space pleasant and make a small room look spacious than it actually is.
They are also used in railings, elevators, and as partition walls in office buildings. When glasses are curved, they make a wonderful aesthetic element with greater functional value.
ARCHITECTS AND GLASS
Louvre Museum, Paris – I M Pei
The Dancing House, Prague
Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois