Glass: the 21st century’s material
The glass is the material that characterizes the 21st century’s architecture and prevails in every modern building. The modern architecture is being primarily driven by the technological developments of the applied engineering and the availability of new materials leading to the invention of new structural techniques. The use of glass in the past was limited as a material that covers the openings. This use was considered dominant as it ensured protection of weather phenomena, maintaining though the visual contact with the outside environment. Transparency and impression of a single appearance of interior and exterior space, resulted in a source of inspiration for many architectural streams. In the end of the 20th century glass with other modern materials were widely used and were considered as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Today, thanks to the previous technology, the possibilities that it gives are unlimited. The demands of modern structures, leaded to the invention of glasses with developed potential and specifications for all the structural and designing needs.
Architects are using more and more the glass as there are plenty of its advantages. First of all, it’s a friendly material for the environment, as for its production there is no demand for large amounts of energy and it is totally recyclable. Furthermore, its technology is continuingly developed and presents products that contribute in saving energy, helping in the energy efficiency of the building resulting in less need of air conditioning.
Other advantages that should be measured are the transparency, the inflexibility, the opposition to the atmospheric pollutions, the ability of reflection the ability of filtering the solar radiation the efficiency of maintenance, the long lasting and the resistance to the weather phenomena and corrosion. With the efficient selection of the material, glass can also provide sound and thermal insulation and fire breaking protection. It can also be colorful or transparent satin or polish, being combined with metal grids or drawings, as there are thermo chromic glasses that change color with the fluctuations of the temperature (interactive or architectural).
Its clear that glass today is everywhere around us, even in the most insignificant transferring it to a significant one it’s adaptable material for the creative architect and it is impressive that in our days it can cover uses that in the past seemed utopian. It’s used in the construction of various elements of interior and exterior architecture of the functionality, the design and the fitting of the space as it can delimit the space and at the same time maintain its unison. Glass in exterior space can be found in facades, skylights and bridges, entrances and vaults, succeeding the permeability of light. These applications allow the light to prevail in the building and not to remote the outside view. In indoor architecture we find glass at stairs, balconies, partitions, as dominant designing material in bathrooms and kitchens. Moreover we find it as a glass floor, curved glass sheds, glass pool floors, glass curtains as in Casa da Musica of OMA plus in many other prototype constructions. In countries with limited sunlight there are houses that are constructed with a glass testa.
The modern trend requires big facades in which can be placed moving or stable glasses. In many building outlooks we observe small or huge windows asymmetry with colorful glasses giving character to the building.