Glass is a remarkable material. By all accounts, mankind has been producing it in one form or another for around 3,600 years, and it is still widely-used and subject to advances in technology today. In fact, it can even be good for your health.
Much like denim jeans and red lipstick, glazing also never seems to go out of fashion. With glass continuing to be a major tool in the arsenal of architects and interior designers, here are five ways it can play a part in reimagining your living space.
1. Glass can let more natural light into your home
An enormous amount of research has been conducted into the health benefits of natural light. We now know that exposure to sunlight during the day can have a marked effect on the quality of sleep later at night, with our bodies using the timings of natural light as their cue to correctly pace our circadian cycles.
Natural light is also a vitally important source of vitamin D (which helps to keep bones and muscles healthy), and a report by Public Health England shows that 22% of the adult UK population has low levels.
In addition, natural light has been shown to have a positive effect on productivity and to aid the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); a Swiss study has shown that 50% of patients with wintertime depression improve with the help of natural light, as opposed to only 25% with artificial lamps.
Getting glass into your home could be the key to harnessing the healthy power of sunlight and enjoying a bright, happy living space. It can even help with energy efficiency - studies show that nearly half of the energy consumption in the average home is for temperature control and light levels, but with natural sunlight through glass helping to both illuminate and insulate a room there are potential energy savings of up to 75%.
2. Create a luxury aesthetic with glass
As glass technology has improved, architects have found increasingly stylish and beautiful ways to incorporate glass into buildings and interiors. From glass furniture and doors to frameless walls, there are a number of ways to create a sleek and stylish look.
Reinforced glass floors are a spectacular and elegant addition to any building and can be made to lift or slide open, as well as being fire-resistant. In addition, a glass floor upstairs can illuminate the room beneath with natural light and provide a visual link between the two spaces. You could even use coloured or printed glass to fit the style of the room.
Interior walls can be made from glass to flood a room with sunlight, or to form a simple and elegant shower screen for the bathroom. You might also consider a roof lantern - essentially a large glass addition to the top of the building that acts as a giant skylight for your house.
2. Use glass to open up your home
Glass can help to make your home feel more open-plan, with glass walls and doors ensuring that you have an expanded sense of space. Discrete, confined rooms could be linked together and given a sense of contiguity, and modern advances in frameless glass mean that this can be achieved elegantly and without unsightly borders.
There can also be a softening of the distinction between “indoors” and “outdoors”. With large windows and glass infills, you can feel connected to the outside world without leaving your house.
Architectural thinking has been moving in this direction for a few years now - Google have been building a giant glass office with trees inside and out - and applying this idea to your home could change the way you think about your environment. It has even been proposed that views of nature can help stimulate the brain and improve attention spans.
3. Update a listed building with glass
If your home is a listed building, you will likely know all too well the difficulties in making major changes to your property. Even a successful proposal will have to wait at least eight weeks for confirmation (or muchlonger), and the consent will likely be quite limited in terms of what you are allowed to do to the building. Worse, fewer and fewer local authorities are able to offer any guidance, with advice from conservation officers becoming increasingly rare.
Glass is ideal in this situation; it can allow you to make bold changes that don’t necessarily affect the character of the original building, and to design considerate additions. In the case of windows, the frames are often a point of contention for listed buildings - but with modern frameless glass technology it has become possible to modify the property in a way which is sensitive to its historical importance.
Glass’s usefulness for conservation projects can extend to much larger propositions, too. One more strategy to add something both modern and sympathetic to a listed building, frequently favoured by English Heritage, is to build...
3. Glass extensions
The versatility of glass for transforming your home is by no means limited to its interior uses. It’s possible to build an entire outdoor extension using nothing but seamless, frameless glass; in fact, we’ve even made a whole house from glass.
A glass extension could be a beautiful way of bridging the transition between your home interiors and your garden; alternatively, you could establish a glazed link between two existing buildings, adding a transparent room or corridor that facilitates travel from one to the other. This could allow you to enjoy the journey from one area of your property to another without hiding away the view of the outdoors, and to get some healthy natural light on the way.
Ultimately, if you are looking to add a ‘wow’ factor to your home, and create something truly spectacular, a glass installation could be for you - it’s modern, practical, and will likely never go out of style. Glazing can completely recontextualise your interior spaces and - perhaps literally - help you to see things in a new light.