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Glass. Marcos Colina Cristopher Vargas Laura Medina. Content. Glass History of Glass Properties (Advantages And Disadvantages) Types Uses Glass in Architecture. Glass.

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Marcos Colina

Cristopher Vargas

Laura Medina



History of Glass

Properties (Advantages

And Disadvantages)



Glass in Architecture


Everyone knows what glass is. We see it and have a contact with it everyday. Rutinary elements such as windows, glasses and vessels are made with it; the glass is also used in a lot of edification that we know, just like different mall centers. But what is really glass made of? Why does almost every Architects use it in their constructions? Which are its advantages and disadvantages?

What is glass
What is Glass?

Glass is an amorphous

(non-crystalline) solid material. Glasses are typically brittle, and often optically transparent. Glass is commonly used for windows, bottles, modern hard drives and houses. It’s a hard material normally fragile, it’s composed mainly of sand (silicates, SiO2) and an alkali.

History of glass
History of glass

  • Prehistory

  • 3500 BC

  • AD 100

  • 11th century

  • 12th century

  • 15th century

  • 17th century

  • 19th century

  • 20th century

  • Origins of glass

  • The beginning of glassware

  • The Roman Empire

  • Sheet Glass

  • Venice

  • Late Middle Age

  • Other advances

  • From craft to industry

  • More and more glass

Origins of glass
Origins of glass

- Prehistory

Natural glass has existed far long before humans, formed when certain types of rocks melt as a result of high temperature phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or lighting strikes.

The beginnings of glassware
The beginnings of Glassware

- 3500 BC

The earliest glassware made by man, mainly transparent glass beads and glazing on pots and vases, are thought to date around 3500 BC, in Egypt and Mesopotamia. However, the oldest fragments of glass vases date back to the 16th century BC.

The roman empire
The Roman Empire

- AD 100

It was the Romans who began to use glass for architectural purposes, with the discovery of clear glass in Alexandria around 100 AD. Cast glass windows began to appear in the most important buildings in Rome and luxurious villas of Pompeii. During the Roman Empire craftsmen of glass could establish and develop good creations, but between 4th and 7th century AD glassmaking slowed, because of the decline of the Empire.

Sheet glass
Sheet Glass

- 11th century

In 11th century occurred an important development: the creation of a technique for producing bigger glass sheets by German glass craftsmen, measuring as much as 3 meters long, with a width up to 45 cm. The panes thus created would then be joined with lead strips and pieced together to create windows. Glazing remained, however, a luxury up to the late Middle Ages, with royal palaces and churches the most likely buildings to have glass windows.


In the Middle Ages, the Italian city of Venice assumed its role as the glassmaking centre of the western world. To protect glassmaking secrets and the like, most of venecian glass craftsmen were moved to Murano, one of the city’s islands, where started to use quartz sand and potash to produce particularly pure glass, famous until advanced 16th century.

- 12th century

Late middle age
Late Middle Age

- 15th century

In late Middle Age Gothic Architecture placed glassmaking in the level of tall Art by giving the possibility of making (for the moment) big and tall windows that let the light through. These windows were made with panes of stained glass, joined with lead strips. Beautiful and colored, these windows resembled historical and religious scenes in cathedrals and palaces.

Other advances
Other advances

- 17th century

Better kinds of glasses surged between 17th and 18th century. The English glassmaker George Ravenscroft used higher proportions of lead oxides instead of potash, and created a brilliant lead glass with a high refractive index which was easier to cut and engrave. Meanwhile, in France were developed new methods for plate glass, which was used especially for mirrors.

From craft to industry
From craft to industry

- 19th century

It was not until the latter stages of Industrial Revolution that mechanical technology for mass production and in-depth scientific research of glass and its qualities began to appear in the industry. In Architecture, the glass became at this moment one of the favorite materials.Hugecrystalbuildingswerethemoment’ssensation.

More and more glass
More and more glass

- 20th century

Since 19th century the use of glass in Architecture has been taken to the limits, and the research in glass production has seen basically one direction: massive, easier and cheaper production, besides of specific technological glasses types.

Glass properties
Glass properties

These are the main characteristics of glass:

Solid and hard material

Fragile and easily breakable into sharp pieces (it isn’t elastic at all)

Disordered and amorphous structure

Glass properties1
Glass properties

Transparent or translucent to visible light

These are the main characteristics of glass:

Inert and biologically inactive material.

Glass is 100% recyclable and one of the safest packaging materials due to its composition and properties

Types of glass
Types of Glass

Float glass

Is a term for perfectly flat, clear glass (basic product). The term "float" glass derives from the production method, introduced in the UK by Sir Alastair Pilkington in the late 1950's, by which 90% of today's flat glass is manufactured.

It is a normal float-clear glass into whose melt colorants are added for tinting and solar-radiation absorption properties. This reduces heat penetration in buildings. Colored glass is an important architectural element for the exterior appearance of façades. It is also used in interior decoration (doors, partitions, staircase panels, mirrors...)

  • Reflective glass

  • This is an ordinary float glass with a metallic coating to reduce solar heat. This special metallic coating also produces a mirror effect, preventing the subject from seeing through the glass. It is mainly used in façades

Low-e glass

Low-emission glass (Low-E) is a clear glass, it has a microscopically-thin coating of metal oxide. This allows the sun's heat and light to pass through the glass into the building. At the same time it blocks heat from leaving the room, reducing heat loss considerably.


Mirrors are commonly made of glass with a smooth, polished surface that forms images by the reflection of rays and light. Mirrors are exceptionally useful and practical devices and are commonly used in every area of daily life.

Insulating Glass

The most important function of insulation glass is to reduce thermal losses, which offers many advantages: lower energy consumption, perfect transparency by reducing the incidence of condensation on the warm air side and the possibility of using larger glazed areas without increasing energy consumption.

Photovoltaic glass

Photovoltaic glass is a special glass with integrated solar cells, to convert solar energy into electricity. This means that the power for an entire building can be produced within the roof and façade areas

Liquid crystal glazing

This is laminated glass, with a minimum of two clear or colored sheets of glass and a liquid crystal film, assembled between at least two plastic interlayer. Liquid crystal glazing is designed for internal applications, including partitions, display cases and bank screens.

Acid-etched glass

It is produced by acid etching one side of float glass. Acid-etched glass has a distinctive, uniformly smooth and satin-like appearance. Acid-etched glass admits light while providing softening and vision control. It can be used in both residential and commercial settings (doors, shower screens, furniture, wall paneling, etc.).

Tempered glass

Tempered (toughened) glass is two or more times stronger than annealed glass. When broken, it shatters into many small fragments which prevent major injuries. This type of glass is intended for glass façades, sliding doors, building entrances, bath and shower enclosures and other uses requiring superior strength and safety properties.

Laminated glass

Laminated glass is a combination of two or more glass sheets with one or more interlayer of plastic (PVB) or resin. In case of breakage, the interlayer holds the fragments together and continues to provide resistance to the passage of persons or objects. This glass is particularly suitable where it is important to ensure the resistance of the whole sheet after breakage such as: shop-fronts, balconies, stair-railings, roof glazing.

Anti-reflective glass

Anti-reflective glass is float glass with a specially-designed coating which reflects a very low % of light. It offers maximum transparency and optical clarity, allowing optimum viewing through the glass at all times. The clarity of vision makes anti-reflective glass suitable for all applications where glass should be transparent.

Glass advantages in architecture
Glass Advantages in Architecture

Visual contact with the outside.

Allows the passage of natural

light during day.

Easy to maintain as it requires

no painting

Glass advantages in architecture1
Glass Advantages in Architecture

Used to divide internal spaces

Can be combined with

other materials

There are many different

kinds of glass

Glass advantages in architecture2
Glass Advantages in Architecture

Glass can be molded,

so that it can take many shapes.

Glass can be recycled

unlimited times.

Glass disadvantages in architecture
Glass Disadvantages in Architecture

  • Not protect the outside temperature.

    During summer and winter are needed air conditioning and heating, respectively.

  • It’s a very expensive material.

Uses of glass
Uses of Glass

Glass to do their properties is an extremely versatile material.Is common to find glass in our lives, for example:

This is used to make cookware because its resistance to heat and cold. Bottles and containers are often made with it.

Glass is used in lamps, bulbs, windows, television and computer screens.

Uses of glass1
Uses of Glass

Nowadays glass is increasingly used in architecture.

In the past glass was mainly utilized for windows to allow some air and light in to rooms. Today glass is utilized in the construction of several elements of exterior and interior architecture. Exterior glass architecture includes facades, display windows' skylights, skywalks, entrances, revolving doors, canopies, winter gardens and conservatories. All of which allow homes to be bathed in natural sunlight with gorgeous outdoor views. Interior glass architecture can be used for staircases, elevated walkways and even as traditional walls. There are some houses in which all of the walls are actually glass.

Glass in architecture
Glass in Architecture

The Glass House or Johnson house, built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence and is a masterpiece in the use of glass. It was an important and influential project for Johnson and his associate Richard Foster, and for modern architecture. The building is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection


This house located in Chile is a masterpiece of the transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and rooms

Santa eulalia cathedral
Santa transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and roomsEulalia Cathedral


In buildings like Santa Eulalia Cathedral, this is in gothic cathedrals, glass does not represent a façade, and is a very little proportion of the building’s materials, but has a strong presence in the inner part of the building.

Santa eulalia cathedral1
Santa transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and roomsEulalia Cathedral


It lighten the place without eliminating the strong sensation of being in other world that these churches give. Besides, the light coming softly from upon us makes us feel littler and humbler before God’s power.

Gilardi house
Gilardi transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and rooms House

Arc. Luis Barragán, México D. F.

Glass does not always have to be the protagonist in Architecture, and that doesn’t mean it isn’t of capital importance. Gilardi House wouldn’t be Gilardi House without those rithmic yellow glasses or details as the white light over the pool and the square greened-glass window.

Crystal palace
Crystal transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and roomsPalace

Built in Hyde Park, London to house the Great Exhibition in 1851 the Crystal Palace is commonly considered as a significant turning point in architectural history. This magnificent structure built from steel and glass paved the way for further exploration of glass as an architectural element.

Crystal palace1
Crystal Palace transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and rooms

Crystal Palace has an iron-glass structure. Iron is in the form of arches. At the top of the building is a glass dome, which allows lighting of the building with natural light.

Hotel burj al arab dubai
Hotel Burj Al Arab. Dubai transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and rooms

Nature returns the gesture by lighting up its glass exterior with awe-inspiring sunset reflections. Glass is combined with steel structure and others materials. Glass is combined with a steel structure, this combination achieves a wonderful piece of contemporary architecture.

Hotel burj al arab dubai1
Hotel Burj Al Arab. Dubai transparency of Carlo Santambrogiomilano and Ennio Arosio that they work with the creation of furniture of crystal, stairs, kitchens and rooms

In this case glass containing ocean water. It uses its transparency property and glass has a curved shape.