The (often ignored) Advantages of Glass in Architecture

Posted November 14, 2017 | Tags: Building material, glass

Glass is one of the oldest and most versatile building materials.  It has been used since ancient times and is reported to be in buildings and villas in Rome and Pompeii.

What is glass?

Glass is a transparent hard substance created when heat is applied to sand or quartz. It is a mixture of raw materials like Silica, sodium potassium carbonate, lime or lead oxide, and manganese oxide. It is inorganic, can be transparent or translucent, and can be molded into any shape.

Architects have been using glass for a very long time to enhance design, beauty, light, and energy usage. It’s not unusual to see designs that emphasize the use of glass as a primary building material.

What types of glass is used by architects?

Architects often use reinforced, toughened and laminated glass.

The most common type of glazing glass available is sheet glass. Sheet glass is used for doors and windows.   Plate glass is also common and is used in windows, shop fronts, buildings, and workshops.  Wired glass is glass that contains a wire mesh. Its impact resistance is similar to normal glass, but when broken, the mesh retains the pieces of glass.  Similar to wired glass is laminated glass, which holds together by an interlayer when broken.  Architects use laminated glass when human impact is possible or where the glass could fall and shatter.  Skylights and automobile windshields utilize laminated glass.

Why is it used?

The uses of the various types of glasses are many.

Glass is available in many aesthetically pleasing sizes and styles. Glass building material, in the form of block walls, partitions and windows, can deliver beauty, visibility, and light transmission. 

It can also be made available in several colors. Glass in laminated or insulated units, when combined into single sheets, will have different colors and appearance.  The color appearance of glass color appearance can also by changed by environmental factors such as sunlight (midday sun or sunset), clouds and reflected sky.

Seven advantages of Glass

  1. Glass can absorb, refracts or transmits light. It adds beauty to a building when used in transparent or translucent applications. Glass transmits up to 80% of available natural daylight.    
  2. The use of natural light can lower electricity bills, brighten the rooms of a building, and can also boost the mood of the occupants.
  3. Glass is resistant to weather and can hold up to the effects of the wind, rain, or the sun.
  4. Glass is also rust resistant and does not degrade because of the effects of chemical and environmental conditions.
  5. Glass is 100% recyclable and it does not degrade during the recycling process, and it can be recycled again and again without loss of quality or purity.
  6. Glass is unaffected by noise, air, water. Sealed glass panes transmit very little sound, and hence can be a good sound insulator.
  7. Glass has a smooth, glossy surface so it is dust proof and can be easily cleaned.
With so many types, uses, and advantages glass is a staple of architecture and design.  It can enhance the beauty of a building, save money by reducing energy usage, and is durable.


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