Jola Starzak and Dawid Strębicki, founders of Atelier Starzak Strębicki answered our questions on their perspective of glass and its various uses in their projects.
What concepts does glass as a building material evoke in your imagination?
Glass as a building material offers us a possibility to design visual relations between rooms and spaces and allows us to merge interiors with exteriors. It gives a possibility to create beautiful vistas and to give hierarchy to the spaces.
Which criteria determine your preference in using glass (insulation, reflectivity, color, etc.) in the design process of your projects?
Glass, as well as other building materials, should combine for us two important criteria: high-quality technical parameters (for example high insulation values) and aesthetic qualities like reflectivity, clear transparency, color etc. Only if both of them are fulfilled we are confident with using glass.
Which building do you find the most impressive in its use of glass, why?
We are always very impressed by architecture that uses glass to deliver light, views and creates relations between spaces in a very theatrical way. So, the glass acts as a beautiful element of scenography influencing our perception of space and creating an amazing atmosphere. So in the end the glass becomes part of the phenomenology of architecture. There is a lot of beautiful examples of it, but just to name few very different ones: Churches designed by Rudolf Schwarz or Elbphilharmonie Hamburg by Herzog de Meuron or Villa Tugendhat in Brno by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
What are the attributes of glass that add value to building design?
Glass has an incredible potential to merge or frame spaces. We can also play with the experience of the scale of spaces, depending on the number of glass surfaces we use as architects. Glass also gives meaning to the way we deliver light into spaces and is responsible for defining the level of privacy within the building.
How do these values reflect on your projects, how do you prefer to use glass?
In our designs, we always aim for following the client’s story, their daily needs, and rituals; based on that we try to create functional, beautiful, and poetic spaces. Additionally, we always try to propose possible technical solutions which are sustainable, long-lasting, and feasible. In this same way, we treat glass, as a building material. A good example that represents the way we prefer to use glass is our project House by the Lake, which has a 6-meters-long window. This window works in fact as a glass wall that merges the interior of the living room with the beauty of the exterior garden. Through the glass, we were able to create a feeling of a big spacious room that frames a beautiful painting-like landscape that changes along with the seasons. Besides, we also use glass to provide northern light through the series of skylights located in different parts of the roof. Since the house is standing in the middle of a very unique landscape, we decided to give each of the rooms (also bathrooms) big windows, reaching all the way down to the floor to provide vistas onto nature.
Could you share your vision for the creative use of glass in architecture?
We hope that in the future glass will be more explored as a material in terms of reuse and recycle strategies, like the project Re3 Glass by Telesilla Bristogianni and Faidra Oikonomopoulou from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. This idea introduces a reversible building system comprising of dry-assembled interlocking building blocks made out of waste glass.