Florian Schlüter, co-founder of Meixner Schlüter Wendt answered our questions on his perspective of glass and its various uses in his projects.
What concepts does glass as a building material evoke in your imagination?
The fact that it has such a highly changeable appearance makes glass a decidedly exciting but also a very exacting material. You need to be very precise about how you exploit its complex attributes from great depth through to reflecting opacity. Being able to use it to produce almost invisible three-dimensional shells is just one very appealing option.
Which criteria determine your preference in using glass (insulation, reflectivity, color, etc.) in the design process of your projects?
For each of our projects the design is always based on conceptual decisions that are informed by the brief and by local parameters. Generally, the initial focus is on sculptural aspects such as mass and space. Choosing materials such as glass is something that typically comes later on when you want to make the design more specific and lend it material form.
Which building do you find the most impressive in its usage of glass, why?
We would spontaneously go for the Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe in Berlin which has just reopened again after being comprehensively modernized. The fact that it as good as eliminates spatial boundary lines and creates the feeling that the roof floats set the standard in its day.
Another example would be the Centre Pompidou in Paris in which the building’s shell retreats behind the technical and structural frame and enables its conceptual presence.
What are the attributes of glass that add value to building design?
Hardly any other material offers as much scope for expression as does glass. Highly transparent glass lets you play down the building’s shell so that there is an almost seamless transition between inside and outside. By contrast, strongly reflecting glass also makes a building merge with its surroundings but protects the inner space from the outer space.
Moreover, naturally the play of light and glass opens up options on a scale that you don’t find with any other material.
How do these values reflect on your projects, how do you prefer to use glass?
In the Flohr residence, overcoming spatial divides leads to the ground floor merging with the surrounding garden. Consequently, the upper floor that is reminiscent of a UFO seems to hover above it.
With the Evangelische Akademie in downtown Frankfurt the complex glass facade takes up elements of the historical neighboring building and through the effect of spatial depth connects the building on many levels with its surroundings.
Could you share your vision for the creative use of glass in architecture?
We think that was already illustrated very clearly in the answers we have given you. Otherwise, we are intrigued as to how the structural and energy-related properties of glass can be further improved to perhaps generate even greater potential for its use.
Photography: © Christoph Kraneburg (2nd: Evangelische Akademie, 3rd: Flohr residence)