Acclaimed architect Bruno Taut said, “If we want our culture to rise to a higher level, we are obligated for better or for worse, to change our architecture. And this only becomes possible if we take away the closed character from the rooms in which we live. We can only do that by introducing glass architecture, which lets in the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars”.
A New Architectural Era
Built in Hyde Park, London to house the Great Exhibition in 1851 the Crystal Palace is commonly considered as a significant turning point in architectural history. This magnificent structure built from steel and glass paved the way for further exploration of glass as an architectural element. The glass sail of the new Milan trade fair and Louvre pyramid are other stunning example of the use of glass as a structural as well as a design element. Other examples of glass architecture include the London Bridge, Agbar and Federazija Towers as well as the Tokyo International Forum.
While the use of glass in construction was previously quite limited to grand designs and office buildings it is starting to become a core structural and design element in many homes. Glass facilitates natural light and opens up rooms allowing smaller spaces to look bigger as well as facilitating a natural indoor/outdoor flow which often enhances the tranquillity as well as the value of your home. Glass is also relatively inexpensive and fully recyclable, an important consideration in the current era of heightened environmental consciousness. Glass use in construction has increased dramatically due to the rapid changes in glass production and technology. Previously glass was thought to be quite a fragile building material and many steered away from it because of this. Modern glass, however, is not only spectacular to look through but it is safer, stronger and energy efficient.
Glass in the home
In the past glass was mainly utilized for windows to allow some air and light in to rooms. Today glass is utilized in the construction of several elements of exterior and interior architecture. Exterior glass architecture includes facades, display windows’ skylights, skywalks, entrances, revolving doors, canopies, winter gardens and conservatories. All of which allow homes to be bathed in natural sunlight with gorgeous outdoor views. Interior glass architecture can be used for staircases, elevated walkways and even as traditional walls. There are some houses in which all of the walls are actually glass. Such high quantities of glass previously compromised other aspects such as the heating and cooling requirements. Often glass architecture would incur high heating costs in winter and cooling costs in summer. Fortunately such great progress has been made in the glass industry that we now have access a variety of different kinds of glass each with fantastic benefits. One such example is glass with spectrally-selective qualities, which allows light to stream into the house without being harmful or degenerative to occupants and their belongings.
Caring for your Glass
To keep your glass looking great and streak free you will need to ensure that it is cleaned often. Try a few different cleaning solutions before you decide which one to use, options vary from store bought to home made solutions. Many use products such as ammonia, vinegar, borax, alcohol or Epsom salts to clean glass. An important point to remember is that when using your own solutions never combine an acid and an alkaline, for example vinegar and ammonia, as they neutralise on another. After washing use a dry cotton towel rather than paper towels or newspaper as they tend to disintegrate and leave deposits on your glass. For a great shine a dry blackboard eraser can be used.
To keep frost from accumulating on exterior windows during the winter, add two cups of antifreeze or rubbing alcohol to each gallon of wash water. For deposits of paint, resin or glue wet the surface and then scrape them off using a razor blade scraper. Take care to scrape in one direction only in order to avoid scratching the surface.
Another option, and a fantastic one at that, is the breakthrough technology that has brought us self-cleaning glass. An ultra-thin coating is applied to the glass during the manufacturing process; this coating has two highly beneficial effects on the glass. First organic residue on the glass broken down by the ultraviolet wavelengths in sunlight then when it rains the dirt is washed off. As the coating is hydrophilic when rain hits the glass, it doesn’t form droplets and in turn eradicates streaking. Rain water flows down the glass in a sheet and washes the dirt away. If you don’t have time to wait for the rain a simple garden hose will be just as effective.
Self-cleaning glass is making the lives of homeowners far easier and is giving home owners absolutely no reason to hesitate to use of glass in the construction of their homes. What could be better than bright, open rooms with excellent outdoor views facilitated by huge sheets of glass, without having to spend your days cleaning them?
Modern day architectural trends have elevated the way we think about the use of glass in our own homes. It is no longer simply a material for windows and the occasional sliding door; it is a design component in its own right.
With each passing day glass becomes a more important element in architecture not only in grand public structures but also in the lives and homes of families across the world. The beauty of glass lies in its simplicity, it enables us to be enveloped by nature while living comfortably in doors.