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After Transparency / Towards an architecture of reflection


After Transparency / Towards an architecture of reflection

Peña Tijerina, Gabriel (2022) After Transparency / Towards an architecture of reflection. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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After transparency takes a critical position regarding the conceptualization of glass in modern and contemporary architecture where it has, largely so far been viewed as an absent entity that divides interior and exterior spaces. Beyond transparency delves beneath the much-touted transparency of glass to expose how its complex material properties can generate affective atmospheres that modify/modulate our sensorial perception of architecture.
In Part I of this thesis, “A Genealogy of Glass,” I begin by exploring the etymological roots of “glass”, and then go on to examine its material, ideological and phenomenological uses in modern architecture, from Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace in 1851 to the interwar period in Germany (1918 – 1930), down to contemporary projects that transgress the notion of glass as “transparency”. I show that the latter projects highlight the interplay of transparency and reflection to produce rich and complex atmospheres designed to radically transform social and perceptual interactions. Paradoxically, most of these transgressive projects seek to recuperate and enter into dialogue with some of the early intentions of glass architecture at the beginning of the century, before glass came to be seen as a material the greatest achievement of which was to be virtually absent.
Unfortunately, the discourse of absence and transparency remains very current in architecture circles, and it is argued that this has obfuscated the utopian and sensorial properties of glass architecture dating back to the beginning of modernism. Part I of this thesis concludes with a review of the roots and intentions beyond transparency of seminal projects such as the Crystal Palace, the Glass House, the Glass Room and the Barcelona Pavilion. Here my aim is to uncover unattended routes and phenomenological intentions in glass architecture from an affective and atmospheric perspective.
In Part II, “An Anatomy of Glass Architecture”, I elaborate a theoretical structure anchored in Kenneth Frampton's Studies in tectonic Culture, augmented by a phenomenological perspective based on Gernot Böhme’s Atmospheric Architectures: The Aesthetics of Felt Spaces. By weaving the concepts of tectonics and atmospheres together, I present a new position with respect to what “glass atmosphere” is. The concept of glass atmospheres is also explored through the shared history of glass and crystals, both in practice and concept, highlighting the importance of this relation in the production of abstract and modern architecture. The affective dimension of glass atmospheres is studied by attending to its sensuous qualities, pointing out as well to how these qualities change and transform in relation to their social, cultural, and geographical locus.
To conclude the second part of the thesis, I conceptualize the phenomenon of glass atmospheres as a perceptual apparatus. I analyze this apparatus in terms of its surface properties based on Giuliana Bruno’s studies on the projective e-motion of light and cinema, as well as the capacity of a reflective surface to retain the memories of its surrounding space. I incorporate time and entropy into the analysis through the work of Fernandes Galiano on the role of entropy in the production and maintenance of architecture, while The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli will help explain how reflection in glass atmospheres can make us experience alternative temporalities.
In Part III “A Typology of Glass Reflection”, I examine different forms of glass reflection through different architectural examples, field work observations, experiments, and the fundamental physics that produces the phenomena. To round out the last part, I incorporate two interviews to give insight into the potentialities of glass atmospheres and reflection both in arts and architecture. First, distinguished architect Alberto Campo Baeza discusses some of the ways glass reflection has played an important role in his work, and how this phenomenon has been incorporated into Moorish and Renaissance architecture. Second, Pedro Lash discusses his artistic work based on prehispanic mythology, Dark Mirror, which employs reflection as a perceptual and conceptual mechanism for the decolonization of space.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Peña Tijerina, Gabriel
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:14 September 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Howes, David and Cucuzzella, Carmela and Pezolet, Nicola
Keywords:Glass architecture, Glass atmospheres, Atmospheres, Glass reflection, Glass transparency, Sensory Studies, Sensory Ethnography
ID Code:991130
Deposited By: Gabriel Alejandro Peña Tijerina
Deposited On:27 Oct 2022 13:45
Last Modified:27 Oct 2022 13:45


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