The art of glass
Floor-to-ceiling windows either require splendid isolation or wall-to-wall shutters
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