Every façade can be transformed into a painting or, at the least, into a black and white image or a photograph.
This, you might think, would destroy the view from inside. But this is far from true. Wiel Arets’, Utrecht University Library, which features on several pages of my last book about architectural glass art, ‘Colours of Architecture’, is a great example of what can be achieved.
Every window of the façade has the same fritted image, an image of reeds – the original ‘papyrus’ plant. This fritted image became the emblem of the building. It is cast into doors and into concrete cladding panels both inside and outside the building. This subtle organic photograph creates a soft membrane that filters all the light penetrating the building and at the same time provides a curious sense of texture to the exterior. At night, both from inside and outside, the subtle, soft image creates another experience – another filter between the interior and the external world.
Glass, as a medium, for working both with the cladding of buildings and with the glazing as a screening material, has its own unique properties. It is a truly kinetic material. If you make an image on aluminium or concrete, wherever you are this image will always appear the same. When it can be seen from both sides, this can never be said of an image on glass. How the light is falling, what is reflected in the glass, where the sun is and where you are standing, will all change the image – making it darker, brighter, more in focus, more out of focus, continually shifting your perception of what is there.
Working with the glass skin of the building, you are creating the face of the building, its smile, its frown, its heart, its soul. You are creating something that is just that bit more alive. This is “architectural glass art”.