Urban Glass House
New York, 1999
This house was commissioned by Time magazine as a prototype for a dwelling of the future. It is an urban structure that responds to a contemporary desire for infinite space in the dense metropolis. Rather than abandoning the city and recreating an artificial urban experience outside of it, the house addresses the city by existing simultaneously inside and above it.
The proposal suggests that penthouses could be built on high-rise buildings, brownstones, and mega-blocks, where they would act as illuminated beacons, transparently celebrating domesticity and everyday life. Visible from below as well from surrounding homes, they would “publicize privacy,” offering a counterpoint to the Internet, which privatizes public life. The glass penthouses would also provide brilliant observation points on the on-going spectacle of the city down below. more
The architecture of the Glass House plays on an opposition between an industrial-looking rectangular envelope and the lush curvature of its inner volumes. The glass-and-steel details of the exterior contrast with the soft curtains, polished marble, curved translucent glass and exotic-wood veneers of the interior. Services and circulation are contained in an undulating "sandwich" wall that also assists in defining the living spaces. The wall expands and folds back, enclosing private spaces and opening to allow rooms and corridors to flow into one another. It provides the "subconscious" of the house, adjusting to the user’s desires. Bathrooms are contained in a large "wet" wall, made out of a composite of glass and resin, which extends through the house. The surface of this wall alternates between transparency or translucency and opacity. Its other side is a digital wall that acts as a projection screen, or media installation, for pliable electronic images. back
Conceptual Design Commission, 1999
15,000 sq. meters
Lead Designer: Bernard Tschumi. Key Personnel: Andrew Vrana, Johanne Riegels Oestergaard, Philippos Photiadis