Last update: 23.08.2019

Building with glass

For centuries, people have used glass for filling “light holes” in solid outer walls. This has drastically changed in the last three decades. Today, glass itself forms and shapes space and creates room enclosures, thus creating transparent architecture that allows people to feel close to nature. Experts use the generic term “façade” to describe any external architectural construction that serves as protection against weather and dangers of any kind.

In addition to science, research and technology, art and architecture in particular have given rise to a host of possibilities when it comes to façades made from glass. Aesthetics, functionality and construction are the most important aspects of using glass as an architectural element, and all of these factors must be precisely defined at the start of planning. A glass’s finish on a façade always influences its reflective properties, which can range from being produced so that the glass is very reflective, reflects an overall colour, or has weak reflection. The change of daylight due to weather, the sun’s changing position in the sky, the colour of the sky and the seasonal change of vegetation influence reflection, and interior light conditions also impact on glass’s appearance from the outside. Glass façades are generally composed of transparent and opaque areas that can be produced so that interior spaces are visible, or are “optically neutralised” and rendered “invisible” by using a specific type of glass. Reflections during the daytime also influence whether a person on the street can see into the interior.

The coloured adjustment between a translucent window and an opaque balustrade is only approximately possible as the colour impression of the translucent pane is always affected by the room behind the pane and its light conditions. In addition to the original function of a façade to provide protection, further decisive criteria relating to functionality are also in focus, especially for glass façades. Not only is there a possibility of obtaining energy from the façade, but one must also consider protection from heat during the summer (Check Solar control). With regard to the constructive periphery of concrete, steel or aluminium, it should always be assured that, in addition to static loads caused by wind, suction and snow, the glass weight is also considered.