Glass Mass, 2019
SCI-Arc 3GBX Applied Studies
Instructors: Marcelo Spina
Skills: Modeling in Rhino; Making Physical Model with Laser Cut and 3D Print
Team: Siyao Zheng, Mahyar Naghshvar
The dichotomy between Transparency and Opacity has long haunted architectural history and theory. Mies Van der Rohe photomontages for Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper depict precisely the ambivalence of the architect towards these seemingly oppositional notions of describing mass. When surfaces are opaque, mass is readable but relations between interior and exterior are very much discontinuous. On the contrary, transparency implies the partial erasure of mass, in pursuit of clarity of vision as well as views. This dichotomy is still very much present nowadays. In this course, we design a new semi-transparent glass envelope as a small prototype, taking visual ambivalence (transparency, translucency, and opacity) as the basis for their formal, material and constructive investigations.
As our concept, we overlay the image of the Doric column and Mies Van der Rohe’s skyscraper drawing and project them onto three layers of glasses. The new frit patterns enhance the vertical lines while the mullions are delicately hidden in the darker area. When walking around the envelope, the perspective of the image will keep changing and people will feel the depth of the space in-between layers of glass panels.