Andreas Vardas, the founder of Cyprus-based Varda Studio 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?
Clarity, grace, delicacy… Obviously, glass is a completely transparent material. It does not have its own image, but it is used to make the outside visible from the inside or the inside from the outside. Its most characteristic feature is that it can be seen behind it, and this also defines its use. Even when in the case of opaque glass, the choice is based on the amount of light it lets through.
The elegance of glass comes from its clarity and simplicity combined with its variability. It offers a completely smooth and shiny surface. It can reflect and deflect light in interesting ways. It lets the light through but casts a shadow.
Glass is also a material that continues to evolve. I think we haven't seen its real potential yet. I believe that in the future, the industry will open up new uses in construction with new applications and architecture by refining and innovating glass.
Which criteria determine your preference in using glass (insulation, reflectivity, color, etc.) in the design process of your projects?
Glass allows us to connect the interior and exterior directly, bringing the outside inside. I like to design high-ceilinged spaces and frame the landscape, especially the beach and sea. As Cypriots, we enjoy the sun penetrating into the floor and on our skin, and when it enters the building it creates playful shadows. The climate in Cyprus creates more opportunities for life outside compared to colder locations. The large openings with glass have a profound impact on every aspect of my designs: orientation, mass, interior design, access, layout.
What materials do you use glass with the most?
Concrete is one of my favorite materials. It is perfect for combining with glass. Each material has basic properties that are in contrast with one other. Despite the strength and heaviness of concrete, glass offers lightness and transparency. The raw nature of the concrete complements the smoothness of the glass. Concrete has an earthy mass, while glass has an almost sublime quality.
I think it's important to pay attention to the joint details when combining glass with concrete (as with other materials). Frameless glass looks great, but it's hard to achieve. For moving elements, like windows and doors, I prefer products that minimize the framing.
How has glass technology evolved over time and what does it make possible for you?
The development of glass has been rapid. Combined with innovations in aluminum frames, this technology now allows us to create wider openings with glass than ever before. This has had a huge impact on modern architecture. This is largely due to the fact that glass has been developed to be light and transparent. It can move by sliding when combined with aluminum. Recent developments have made such movable modules larger and lighter, easier to use. With the standardization of double glazing, the windows are now better insulated. This aspect of the material has improved further with the different gases used between the double glazing; paved the way for us to use it even more.
Could you share your vision for the creative use of glass in architecture?
I am sure the glass will be further improved. I am looking forward to explore glasses that will provide a thermal performance that can compete with other wall elements. Together with lightweight structures such as steel, it will allow us to maximize the transparency of buildings and spaces. I wish structural glass would be more efficient and accessible, perhaps so that we could design shells made entirely of glass. This will open up new possibilities, new applications and new ways to combine glass with other materials.