Paul Scheerbart, a German poet who wrote a book on glass architecture (Scheerbart, 1914), predicted the demise of windows, to the extent that eventually the word would actually disappear from the pages of dictionaries. Scheerbart was the muse for Bruno Taut, a leading German architect in the expressionist and modernist modes. Taut designed the glass pavilion for the Werkbund exhibition in Cologne in 1914 with aphoristic utopian quotes from Scheerbart inscribed on the concrete beam at the base for his polyhedric cupola. Glass was everywhere else except for the concrete basement: walls, ceilings, floors, and staircases were made of transparent or translucent versions of the material. Taut enjoyed color, even when he designed his modernist housing; it enlivened his vision and gave a warmer touch than the all white demeanor of purely functionalist building. Taut did design functionalist buildings, with the thought that the quality of life offered by the building’s spaces was better than any dogmatic formalism.
Taut’s operable casement or sash windows for his housing siedlungen attests to the fact that he disregarded Scheerbart’s dismissal of the window. However, whenever he had the chance, he held to Scheerbart’s love of color. Some of his housing estates attest to this: Housing at the Schillerpark in Berlin (1924-25, 1927-28) is mostly built of brick although Scheerbart denied the value of this age-old material in the arena of modern architecture. But the intensity of color is really vibrant and intense in the Carl Legien Residential City, in Berlin (1925-30). Taut, along with Franz Hillenger, designed yellow four-storey bays projecting from royal blue walls, plus yellow corner bays with sweeping lines of balconies are evident in this up-close image of part of the complex.
But what would happen if, as Scheerbart would have it, brick were hated and only all-glass buildings held sway? Certain parts of cities worldwide are flooded with glass towers, which are reflective and do away with the stone, wood or metal frames of conventional windows. Curtain walls of glass and metal (iron, steel) sometimes include operable windows, as is the case with the office slab of the Parisian Communist Center Building (designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the sixties). Herein awning windows–slanting glass aperatures are placed in the curtain wall surface. Usually glass buildFast Secure Contact Form Settings how to file attachmentings are sealed, although Gothic stained glass windows had to be operable or strong-wind storms would break them. An interesting new building with glass ‘sails,’ the Louis Vuitton Foundation museum in Paris by Frank Gehry1. At the corner of the Bois de Boulogne this monument is a distant relative of the Glass House of Taut from 1914, a hundred years ago. The difference is that the Taut building is more demure in comparison to the Vuitton which gets ‘in one’s face’ and is a confusing space.
1 According to the architect, Richard Wolkowitz, the glass units are reinforced by beams that look like a combination of steel and what is known as glue-laminated wood beams with steel end pieces for the connections (Wolkowitz, 2014).
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Marbot. 2008. “Schillerpark Housing Estate in Berlin-Wedding.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Berlin-Wedding. http://tinyurl.com/m7mhnha.
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Scheerbart, Paul. 1914. Glasarchitektur. Berlin: Verlag der Sturm.
Unknown. n.d. “Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger, Carl Legien Residential City, Berlin, 1925-1930.” Accessed February 10, 2015. http://cdn2.all-art.org/Architecture/images18/216a.jpg.
Unknown. 1914. “Bruno Taut’s Glass Pavilion at the 1914 Cologne Werkbund Exhibition.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Taut_Glass_Pavilion_exterior_1914.jpg&oldid=333815641.
Wolkowitz, Richard. 2014. “E-Mail from Richard Wolkowitz to Susanne Frank,” October 22, 2014.