Glass Architecture – Paul Scheerbart

Extracts from Glass Architecture –

pg 41 – We live for the most part in closed rooms. These form the environment from which our culture grows, Our culture is to a certain extent the product of our architecture. If we want our culture to rise to a higher level, we are obliged, for a better or for worse, to change our architecture. And this only becomes possible if we take away the closed character from the room in which we live. We can only do that by introducing glass architecture, which lets in the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars, not merely through a few windows, but through, ever possible wall, which will be made entirely of glass.

pg 41 – We already have glass architecture in botanical gardens. The Botanical Gardens at Dahlem near Berlin show that very imposing glass palaces have been erected. But – colour is missing, In the evening sunlight, however, the Palm House and the Cold House look so magnificent… the Palm House is particularly interesting: outside, the seemingly unsupported iron construction; inside, the framework of wood glazing bars, sot hat no rust-water accumulates and the iron can be repainted again and again…. The worst thing, thought, is that the glass walls are single glazed not double; in consequence, the expenditure on winter heating is simply enormous.  



 tropical house

tropical house

pg 42 – The Iron Skeleten and the Reinforced Concrete Skeleton 

An iron Skeleton is of course indispensable for glass architecture. This will inevitably stimulate an extraordinary upsurge in heavy industry.

pg 43 – The inner Framework of glass surfaces. 

The Iron or reinforced concrete skeleton virtually frames the glass, but the glazed surfaces must have another smaller inner frame. For this purpose in the Botanical Gardens, as already mentioned, impermanent wood was used.

Various Other new building Materials might be considered, but these have not yet been sufficiently tested for them to be thought of as entirely credible materials suitable for framing glazed surfaces.


pg 43 – (in reference to not being able to hang ornaments on the wall of a glass house) Ideas derived from our grandparents must no longer be the deciding influence in the new environment. Everything new has to wage an arduous campaign against entrenched tradition. It cannot be otherwise, if the new is to prevail.


pg 44 – The ancient Arabs lived far more in their gardens than in their castles. For this reason garden houses and kiosks were very quickly developed by them. Unluckily, since perishable wood was their constant choice of building material, nothing remains of this Arabian garden Architecture.

pg 45 – The Functional Style

For a transition period, the functional style seems to me acceptable; at all events it has done away with imitations of oler styles, which are simply products of brick architecture and wooden furniture. Ornamentation in the glass house will evolve entirely of its own accord – the oriental decoration, the carpets … will be so transformed that in glass architecture we shall never, I trust,have to speak of copying.

** Introduction** pg 46


The Face of the earth would be much altered if brick architecture were ousted everywhere by glass architecture. It would be as if the earth were adorned with sparkling jewels and enamels. Such glory is unimaginable. All over the world it would be as splendid as in the gardens of the Arabian Nights. We should then have a paradise on earth, and no need to watch in longing expectation for the paradise heaven. 

19- Gothic Cathedrals and castle pg 46


Glass architecture is unthinkable without Gothic. In the days when Gothic cathedrals and castles were rising, an architecture of glass was also tried. It was not completely realized, because iron, the indispensable material, was not yet available.


pg 50 – so called glass bricks makes a wall material … should make many iron skeletons superfluous.

pg 53-54 The Developments made possible by Iron construction

Iron Construction permits walls of any desired form. Vertical Walls are no longer inevitable. The developments made possible by iron construction are thus quite unlimited. One can shift the overhead dome effect to the sides. so that, sitting at a table, the only has to glance up sideways to appreciate them. Curved surfaces are also effective for the lower parts of the walls.

pg 56 Mountain illumination

(talk about scheerbart being a futurist) So much sounds fantastic, which actually is not fantastic at all. If one suggests applying mountain illumination to the Himalayas, this is just a ridiculous fantasy outside the reals of practical discussion. Illumination the mountains near the Lake of Lugano is quite another thing. There are so many hotels there which would like to be part of the scenery. that they would be well disposed to glass architecture, if the proposition were not beyond their means. 
pg 70 – The influence of coloured glass on the plant world (where scheerbart got it wrong… maybe? ) Glass Architecture will also exercise an influence on botanical gardens; entirely colourless, plain glass will be gradually abandoned. Coloured glass will only be used externally, where it does not absorb too much light. The plants will then be exposed experimentally to coloured light, and the expers may well have some surprises 









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