I’m surprised that one of the highlighted news article from BBC today is not about a major event or an incident happened today but of something related to architecture instead. The title of the article is ‘Could the era of glass skyscrapers be over?’. This had my attention and after reading the whole article, I find the need and worth to share it here alongside with some of my thoughts since I’m in this particular architecture field too.
The full article can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27501938. The article basically stressed out why is it not good to have buildings (especially massive or tall ones) to be completely (or almost fully) cladded with glass as highlighted by one of the architects responsible for the design of the famous 30 St Mary Axe Building, London. The tower, being nicknamed as gherkin due to its bulbous silhouette or form is fully covered with glass. Now, the architect, Ken Shuttleworth, think the gigantic glass structure was a mistake.
The building built in 2003 considered to have kick-started several other massive glass towers in London like The Cheesegrater, The Walkie-Talkie and also The Shard, the country’s tallest building at over 300 metres. And that is no good as more projects like that are following in while architects started to realize the ‘other face’ of the glass. All we were thinking in the past as architects are that glass looks cool and would make their designs contemporary and stand out over the rest. Yes, in this age of modernization, we couldn’t escape from evolution and so does architecture in terms of building materials. We used solely bricks in the past to construct structures, then concrete, and then steel, and now glass becomes major components of almost every single buildings out there now. It now functions more than just being a door or a window. Now, glass can be wall, roof, or anything!
Yes, using glass gives a number of benefits to a particular building. It helps to bring in natural lighting to interior spaces, hence cutting the need for artificial lighting. Hence, it helps on making a building sustainable. Glass also helps to visually ‘lighten’ the building and makes it appears less massive from architectural perspective. Besides that, glass cladding also allows and offers occupants inside a building (especially tall ones) fantastic and wide view of its surroundings. Glass contributes to striking and luxurious appearance, and that is what most architects now are looking for in their designs.
But if you think twice, glass would also brings more heat into the building especially during summer. On the other hand, during winter, glass could easily allows the coldness from outside to seep in. Not good in terms of thermal comfort. Not only that, the article I mentioned earlier also highlighted that the strong glare from the sunlight reflected to the glass facade of buildings isn’t only something that is unbearable to people, but also it is capable of melting things (wow…seriously?). The powerful rays shone to its surroundings can damage people’s eyes, cars, and passers-by even managed to fry eggs just by the sunlight.
So, think twice before putting in a lot of glass into your designs. It looks cool, but think of its necessity and the effects it can lead to in the future. I’m not trying to ban the usage of it. In fact, I like glass. But to be a good architect, one must be able to consider and think of all aspects from aesthetics, costing, sustainability, functionality, character of materials to occupants’ comfort in every designs. Hence, usage of glass should treated in the same way.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web. Information source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27501938)