The art of glass

Floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows ei­ther re­quire splen­did iso­la­tion or wall-to-wall shut­ters

Country Life Every Week - - The Inside - Giles Kime

FIVE res­i­dents of Neo Bank­side, an apart­ment com­plex on the south bank of the Thames in South­wark SE1, have launched le­gal ac­tion against Tate Mod­ern, claim­ing that its new view­ing plat­form is sub­ject­ing them to ‘near con­stant sur­veil­lance’ from the one mil­lion vis­i­tors who visit the gallery each year, demon­strat­ing that the great­est dan­ger to peo­ple liv­ing in glass houses is not re­cip­ro­cal stone throw­ing, but their neigh­bours—or at least in high-den­sity ar­eas.

The idea of floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows in a se­cluded set­ting was the idea be­hind the Farnsworth House, de­signed by Lud­wig Mies van der Rohe in the late 1940s for a client in Illi­nois. In many re­spects it was a step too far; the client, Edith Farnsworth loathed it, de­scrib­ing it as an ‘X ray’, and House Beau­ti­ful saw its aus­ter­ity as an ar­chi­tec­tural man­i­fes­ta­tion of Com­mu­nism.

It is only rel­a­tively re­cently that ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers have dis­cov­ered that a more re­strained use of plate glass can go a long way in a tra­di­tional, as well as a Mod­ernist con­text. Mclean Quin­lan demon­strated the point beau­ti­fully when it was com­mis­sioned to re­store the coach house at San­dridge Park, Devon (top), where glass mixes ef­fort­lessly into the Nash de­signed sur­round­ings.

At Wilder­ness Re­serve in Suf­folk, there are plenty of in­spired ex­am­ples of how glass can be in­te­grated into tra­di­tional build­ings, no­tably the 19th-cen­tury cartshed (above) that was once at the heart of the home farm at Sibton Park, one of the host of prop­er­ties painstak­ingly re­stored by the Fox­ton’s es­tate agency founder Jon Hunt. If pri­vacy is re­quired, there are no dusty net cur­tains to sully the sleek, pared-back in­te­rior, just floorto-ceil­ing oak shut­ters that al­low light in while main­tain­ing pri­vacy.

Just the thing for Neo Bank­side—and less ex­pen­sive than le­gal ac­tion.

‘The great­est dan­ger to peo­ple liv­ing in glass houses is not stone throw­ing, but their neigh­bours

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