Gorgeous Glass: 5 Architectural Projects Illuminated By Glass Block – Architizer Journal

Since its invention in the late 1800s, glass block has been touted for its ability to illuminate. The material’s prismatic quality means that it more effectively diffuses light into space compared with sheet glass. In the early twentieth century, as modern architects looked to industrial materials for inspiration, glass block acquired a newfound aesthetic importance, becoming a hallmark of streamline moderne architecture. Pierre Chareau’s Glass House (1928-32) in Paris, with its façade entirely composed of glass blocks, is the building most associated with the material.

Postmodern architects reclaimed glass block in the 1980s and 1990s, using the material in every permutation from subway stations to residential kitchens, and leading many to decry the material. Now, the core benefits of better-quality light, economic construction and translucency have helped glass blocks to make a comeback in contemporary design, particularly in luxury projects. The following five projects demonstrate the various applications of glass blocks in contemporary architecture, from elegant mountain spas to university classrooms and art galleries to sales centers.

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