We have been using glass in architecture both for its aesthetics and transparency for a long time. Glass has become an integral part of architecture so much that skyscrapers are all covered in glass facades for most of the cases. The modern-day innovations have also enabled the production of glass that can protect the indoors from the harshness of natural temperature fluctuations. Here are some exquisite architectural marvels made of glass that would surely take your breath away.
The Morpheus Hotel of Macau is one of the architectural and structural art pieces of the Zaha Hadid Architects. Informed by the fluid forms within China’s rich traditions of jade carvings, the Morpheus is designed by combining dramatic public spaces and generous guest rooms with innovative engineering and formal cohesion.
The Shard is a 72 storey, mixed-use tower sitting on the south bank of the River Thames by RPBW. The building was made in a response to the urban vision of London Mayor Ken Livingstone and to his policy of encouraging high-density development at key transport nodes in London. The slender pyramidical structure suits the mix floor requirements—large floor plates at the bottom for offices, restaurants, public spaces; a hotel located in the middle; and private apartments at the top. The final floors accommodate a public viewing gallery, 240m above street level. This arrangement of functions also allows the tower to taper off and disappear into the sky. The name, Shard defines the shape and visual aesthetics of the tower. There are eight sloping glass facades fragmenting the scale of the building and reflecting light in unconventional ways. The opening vents in the gaps or “fractures” between the vertical glass facades provide natural ventilation to the winter gardens inside. Blending with the sky perfectly, the extra-white glass used on the Shard enables it to adopt with the changing sky—it seems the mood and the colour of the Shard are always changing.
The striking building of all-glass, the Crystal, is a creation of the architect, Wilkinson Eyre. It is a new forum for debate on sustainable urban living and development, sitting within East London’s Green Enterprise District. Challenging the conventional beliefs of sustainability, the Crystal is a structure using the least energy with the help of advanced technology. The construction incorporates six different types of highly insulated glass of cladding—each with varying levels of transparency to moderate solar gain and frame views into and out of the building. To monitor the natural light into the building, reflective glass is used on the backward-leaning facets to reflect the sun, while transparent glass is used on the inner faces angled towards the ground.
The 800 West Fulton Market is a project of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The structure is a mixed-use creative office building, marking the gateway to one of Chicago’s most dynamic neighbourhoods. The 19-storey building is carefully designed with précised proportions to relate to the rhythm and scale of the local historically low-rise streetscape. The building rises in stepped terraces that create generous, landscaped outdoor spaces with native planting and trees. The bold structural expression of external steel cross-braces on the east and west facades are designed to fit in with the native climate. A movable node at the centre of each brace allows for thermal expansion and contraction. Together with an offset core, this structural system enables the large, open floorplates and flexible, light-filled workspaces.
The Sheraton Moon Hotel by MAD is located next to Nan Tai Lake in Huzhou, beside a serene lake. Inspired by the local heritage, the arcing form of the hotel connects land and water is the most futuristic way. The building looks circular combined with its reflection in the lake. The reflection in the water below creates a poetic echo of the natural landscape. The surreal structure gained its name because it resembles the bright moon rising above the lake, blending nature and structure through the reflection when night falls. The entire building is lit up brightly by both its interior and exterior lighting with soft light wrapping around the hotel and the water. The challenging structure is held by concrete core-tube featuring high-capacity, light-weight concrete that offers excellent earthquake resistance and reduced environmental pollution during construction. The structural support is further enhanced by the bridge-like bracing steel structure connecting the double cone structure at the top floor. The hotel façade is covered with layers of fine-textured white aluminium rings and glass. The structure allows for all rooms of the hotel to offer spectacular views while increasing the natural light in all directions. The arc-like public space at the top has great open views and can act as a “suspended site” for large-scale events.
Built over 28000 sq. Meter area, the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center is a masterpiece of the architect Henning Larsen in collaboration with the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The design is based on a geometrical principle developed in Olafur Eliasson's studio and executed in both two and three dimensions. The living icon of Iceland sets a poetic stage for a diverse range of events including music concerts, picnic lunches, international gala performances and banquets throughout the year. The centre also houses a varied mix of playing children, yoga classes, concert guests and international delegates on a day-to-day basis. The crystalline shell lets the rich variations of the Nordic daylight dance in the foyer. Harpa's facades are made up of varieties of the so-called "quasi-brick", inspired by Iceland's characteristic basalt rocks. “In the daytime, the geometric figures create a crystalline structure which captures and reflects the light and initiates a dialog between the building, city, and natural scenery. At night, the facades are illuminated by LED lights, built into each quasi-brick. The color and light intensity can be adjusted to bring the full-color spectrum into play and create a variety of different patterns, letters, or symbols”, states the Henning Larsen.
This unique house is the third to be completed in Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture series by the firm “Jarmund/Vigsnæs AS Arkitekter MNAL”. The facade of the black storey sitting on top of the glass-walled ground floor resembles a giant hat. The size of the house is 250 sq. meter but the architecture and the design is way more commendable. The house has a distinct relationship with the existing typical British seaside strip of houses that brings the memory of a romantic holiday at bed-and-breakfast. In contrast, the ground floor with glass narrates a completely different story. The living area and the terraces are set into the dunes in order to protect it from the strong winds and opens equally in all directions to allow for wide views. The corners can be opened by sliding doors as well as emphasizing the floating appearance of the top floor.
The MAS city history museum of Antwerp, Belgium, is a sixty-meter-high tower of stacked exhibition galleries made by Neutelings Riedijk Architects. The building has a very unique structure with each level being rotated 90 degrees than the previous. This provides a spiralling route around the galleries. The wavy texture of the glass is another feature of interest. The museum is faced in a random pattern with hand-quarried Indian sandstone featuring silver-coloured hands affixed.
The historic royal palace, Grand Louvre was modernised into a museum against all odds by the architectural firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Associates. The building was expanded and integrated with the city without compromising the integrity of the historic structure. The architects reorganised the long, linear building into a compact U-shaped museum around the courtyard and built a glass pyramid in the centre to serve as the new main entrance providing direct access to galleries in each of the museum’s three wings. The glass pyramid is an iconic structure, celebrated through awards and movie features.
The E8 building is the result of a design competition to highlight an ambitious expansion of Alava Technology Park. The building by Coll- Barreu Arquitectos represents the validity and future of the research institution. The architecture allows modifying programs and uses, such as the old buildings. Paradoxically, the building gains stability with possibilities with time.
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