All-glass buildings, especially skyscrapers, are ubiquitous — every city has plenty of them, and more seem to go up every week. But will this be the case in a decade or two? A recent article on the BBC website suggests that there may be a growing backlash against top-to-bottom glass building designs.
One of the arguments is purely aesthetic:
Architecture and design critic Tom Dyckhoff is equally keen to see the glass skyscraper put to bed.
“As someone who spends their entire life staring at buildings, I am a bit bored by the glass box. They were radical in the 1920s and now they are just cliches, expensive ones at that.”
But the more-powerful argument is that, from an energy efficiency viewpoint, all-glass towers are incredibly inefficient buildings.
10 years after it was opened, one of the designers behind the “Gherkin” [shown above] has turned against it. Architect Ken Shuttleworth, one of the team at Foster and Partners who designed the tower, now thinks the gigantic glass structure was a mistake.
“The Gherkin is a fantastic building,” he says. “But we can’t have that anymore. We can’t have those all-glass buildings. We need to be much more responsible.” …
Since leaving Foster and Partners in 2006, Shuttleworth has become a key voice in the fight against glass. Despite his background working on giant glazed buildings, he has founded an architectural practice in which floor-to-ceiling windows are considered an archaic luxury.
“Everything I’ve done for the last 40 years I’m rethinking now,” he says. “If you were designing [the Gherkin] today… it wouldn’t be the same product all the way around the building.
“We need to be much more responsible in terms of the way we shade our buildings and the way we thermally think about our buildings.”
When the architect of one of London’s most celebrated recent buildings says he’d do it differently if he had the chance, you know things are changing.