July 27, 2016

Glass has been used in architecture for hundreds of years and now forms the back bone of most modern buildings, but how can you create a structure using something that is perceived to be so fragile? From sky scrapers, to stunning garden glass houses, glass provides not only a beautiful finish, but a surprisingly robust building material.

The history of glass in architecture

In the 1800’s glass blocks were used in cellars and ships’ bowels as a way to provide light, these blocks were simple squares of conventional glass, usually fixed to steel frames. These blocks effectively became the first skylights, as we would know them today.

It wasn’t until 1904 that glass in architecture became interesting, when the French architect, Joachim built the first dome made from concrete and glass, using the block technique.

Glass has always had a symbolic power, with some of the world’s most iconic buildings being made from glass. Today it is recognised in both commercial and residential buildings as a hugely important and valuable part of the design.

How does glass work as a building material?

Believe it or not, glass has its own load bearing qualities and because of this can be used for these purposes in structural engineering. This means that sheets of flat glass can be used as not just a secondary material, but as a primary one to. This is great news for architectural design as it means there is no necessity for irritating braces and no metallic reflection, the building can just be pure glass.

In addition to this, glass can also be reinforced, as illustrated in the Louis Vuitton Foundation, pictured below:

This technique makes it possible to increase the load-bearing properties of the glass, even after it breaks. If a structurally efficient film is used on the glass it can take the weight of a person after breakage, making it not only a great load bearing material, but also impressively safe.

The future of glass

Because of its increasing popularity as a building material, more and more resource is being put in to the research and development of glass. We believe that both commercial and residential architecture will continue to use more and more in its modern design.

Glass is a fantastic material that can totally transform both the external and internal feel of a property. On the outside it gives the building a sleek and modern feel, whilst internally flooding the space with light and that true feeling of bringing the outdoors in.

However, glass is a material that must be properly planned, sourced and installed. Any miscalculation, chip or crack can jeopardise the structural integrity of your building. With this in mind it is vital to employ the proper team of professionals to ensure complete perfection.

At GSE we have years of experience in making glass structurally sound, talk to one of our team today to find out how we can help you turn your build into a glass sculpture.