The glass, is the so called, fourth element of nature (neither solid, nor liquid). It can be easily bended, even more, it appears rather fragile. Moreover, itstransparencyandreflectivitycanbechanged, through process.Thefirstmirrorwasactually, anelement of the nature, the water.However, the “Narcissism” of the human being, led him in inventing various ways, in which, he could admire his idol. The mirrors that the man invented could be either curved or convex· as a result, the mirrored items, were deformed. That is to say, they looked bigger in thecurvedmirrors and consequently, smaller, in the convex ones. Euclid made a first attempt, to ‘translate’ this reality, into the language of mathematics and geometry.
It is believed, that it has been the Phoenician tribe, the one to use glass for the first time and that, happened, in 8000 BC. They were followed by the Greeks and later on, by the Chinese. Glass was used in pottery, jewellery and as means of storage (small bottles to preserve liquids). During the Roman Empire, glass, meant wealth. The invention of the oven in theMiddle East, however, resulted in the “Glass Bowling” technique: the glass now becomes colourful and transparent. After the AD400, the practice of this technique was limited in Venice, its surroundings and in north Europe, as well. Theclimateintheseareas, promoted the use of glass windows, in the apertures of the wall.
Itseems, that the glass bubbles that Pling and Seneca were talking about, during the Middle Ages, were initially used by Archimedes, for war cause. Thesearethe“incendiarymirrors”, on which, he has referred a lot, in his writings: ‘ΚατοπτρικακαιΠεριΚοιλωνΠαραβολικωνΚαυστικωνΚατοπτρων’. Theimportanceoftheglass-madeinstruments becomes obvious, due to the experimentations of the Islamic people. It is the time, when science like Pharmacy, Chemistry and Optics, appear and become known in Europe. In AD 1425, Brunelleschi, invents the rules of the Perspective.
On the other hand, the glassmaking in China suddenly vanishes at that time. Moreover, in India, the reflection of the Human body and the representation of the natural object, in general, were considered as blasphemy to the sacred. Evenmore, in the Far East, were the climate was warm, windows could not be used, so they had created the “shoji” (white panels that do not allow you to see outside the building). The Chinese and the Japanese as well, were excellent steel craftsmen. They used metal, round mirrors, which allowed the semi reflection of the light. In their, Shinto temples, the faithful, could see their soul in the mirrors, in contrast with the west, where mirrors, were the reflectors of an egoist, a non social human being.
The man in the West, at the time, started using the mirror, for artistic purpose. In particular, Leonardo da Vinci refers to the mirror, as the “teacher of paintings”. Many pieces of art, like the “MarriageofArnolfini”, Van Eyck, the “LasMeninas”, Velasquez,or the portraits by Rembrandt, could not have been realized, without the use of the mirror-teacher.
Due to the technological advance, the glass made its appearance in Architecture, too. One of the first constructions to profit from the sudden excess in glass was the “Palm House», by RichardTurnerandDecimusBurtoninKewGardens(1845-48). In 1851 Crystal Palace is built in London. In parallel, in the Far East, the Mejia were restored, so there would come a wave of new technologies and crafts in the area. However, the development of the good, flat glass, used for mirrors, came in the ends of the 19th century.
Back in Europe, in 1918, Bruno Taut meets Behne, with whom, creates an architectural group, the so called “Glass Chain”. Later on, Mies Van Der Rohe, suggests the construction of a skyscraper in Berlin, where he rejects the unified façade and places mirrors. He plays with his building and with the reflections anyone can see on it. He continues his idea, in Farnsworth building, where he makes the solid walls disappear. Mies is thrilled. The tenant on the other hand, complains about the dangers of living in such a place, utterly surrended to the environment. The human, forgets all about the sacred space of “Estia”, and becomes dedicated to his social nature. Thus, it is well understood that despite the fact that the man may want to become one with the environment, or that he might want the same for the Architecture, as well, this process can prove quite scary.
In the modern times, in 2004, Makoto Sei Watanabe built a residence in Shangai, where he brings the courtyard into the interior of the house and vice versa. Certain sides are hidden. The ceiling is open and the tenant feels like living outdoors, while in the meanwhile, he feels protected too. This construction makes us realise that we need no more than an architectural solution in this enigmatic relation between the man and his environment.
These days, we have the ability of changing our visibility limits in an apartment, by exploiting the technological advances in the qualities of the glass.
A new kind of glass for example, lets us, visualize it, either as a window, or as a Chinese Shoji. Another kind of glass, experimented in Holland, can change its reflectivity.
These new kinds of glasses, give us new perspectives if using this material in architecture. Now, we can organize the indoor spaces, according to our needs. Our visual field is utterly expanded. Consequently, the question now is how we could manage to create a space where the habitant could gaze outside of the building, at any time, without being seen from the passer-bys. The answer to that, could be the use of a projector, which would project on the walls, what is happening outdoors, just like a window to the environment.