Ago 262014
 

crystal_palaceGlass was discovered, apparently by accident, nearly 4000 years ago and has since evolved into one of our most used and most revered materials. It was only 2000 years ago that the fabrication of glass progressed to being able to create sheets strong enough to be used as windows and architectural features.

Today glass is used in everything from revolving doors to skywalks and interior partitions and is one of our most striking architectural materials with a fascinating history.

 

The Starts of Glass in Architecture

gothics windows

When glass was first used in architecture and construction, the limitations of masonry and weaker building materials implied that its prominence was restricted to small windows. With developments in construction, this began to change and by the Medieval Era glass started to be used as more of a decorative feature than simply a way to let light in. The trend for tall, stone Gothic churches facilitated the use of elaborate glass windows made up from fragments of coloured glass and depicting striking biblical scenes. These windows related the stories of the bible to an illiterate populace and spurned the architectural trend of searching for transparency, luminosity and weightlessness through glass.

Crystal_Palace 2

The Next Big Step in Glass

It wasn’t until the 19th century that glass in architecture took its next important step forward. Before this time, the manufacturing process itself restricted the use of glass to only small sheets, which is illustrated in the prominent use of cottage pane glass and intricately divided windows in 18th century architecture.

The introduction of iron and other materials during this time meant that glass could take on a whole new role in architecture. Thanks to the materials now existing to hold it in place, coupled with the new ability to mass produce large sheets, the possibilities for the use of glass in construction became nearly limitless. Architects began to experiment with things like conservatories and entire walls of glass that were held together by high trussed steel arches and finger fixings. The Crystal Palace constructed in 1851 represents the most ambitious glass architectural projects of its time – a construction made up of 300 000 sheets of glass.

Source: http://www.articledashboard.com/Article/The-History-of-Glass-in-Architecture/608542

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