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« Elsewhere | Main | Dept. of Belaboring the Obvious »

October 04, 2007

Too Much Glass

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Design experts often rhapsodize about the glories of huge, unbroken expanses of glass -- yet in common experience, large stretches of glass often prove cold, barren, and blinding. Katie Hutchison praises the virtues and pleasures of windows that are divided up into panes. (I wrote a little something here about the way many architects over-value glass.)



posted by Michael at October 4, 2007


Dear Michael;

Surely everyone remembers Christopher Alexander's Pattern No. 239 -- SMALL PANES:

"When plate glass windows became possible, people thought that they would put us more directly in touch with nature. In fact, they do the opposite. Therefore, divide each window into small panes... "

Maybe people still do not know this pattern, derived 30 years ago, considering that the Pattern Language is not taught in academia. A generation of architects has had training in Deleuze and Guattari, but never learned the Pattern Language. I used to get upset over this, but now I accept it as a symbol of self-imposed cultural ignorance. Since Walter Gropius equated "transparency" = "freedom", architects can get an anxiety attack if one begins to question the values of giant expanses of glass.

Best wishes.

Posted by: nikos salingaros on October 4, 2007 9:43 PM

Really, Michael, that started to look positively NYTimish: did you comission Ms.Hutchison to build you a summer cottage, or something? And pay in publicity? What's so particularly original, revelational and clever in noting how a landscape becomes more focused and painterly if framed by the border of the window? Hello, the term "picture window" - old news.

About that transparency and glass: I'd wrote down some pretty hilarious statements on the topic (plus extras) by architects and the Client of the new NY Times building, here.

Posted by: Tat on October 4, 2007 11:03 PM

Traditional domestic architecture is a pane in the glass.

Posted by: Rick Darby on October 5, 2007 12:22 PM

Contemplating small panes versus large pane I find myself glazing over.

Posted by: Chris White on October 5, 2007 2:08 PM

Picture windows aren't normally divided into panes.

Posted by: Intellectual Pariah on October 5, 2007 7:31 PM

IP: it's the same concept, just on a smaller scale.
Sort of like diptychs, triptychs, etc.

Posted by: Tatyana on October 5, 2007 8:42 PM

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