Building design has changed dramatically since the invention of the float glass process by Sir Alastair Pilkington in the 1950s.
We have moved a long way from the idea that windows are merely fenestrations in the external walls of a building allowing light in, and keeping the rain, cold and wind out. Window glass is no longer purely functional but decorative and more importantly an integral part of architectural design. Modern glass can also be produced with varying degrees of reflectivity, and many modern buildings are clad largely in glass and exploit that property.
The degree of window glass reflectivity now plays a significant role in the way that a building interacts with its environment.
Four images today featuring buildings, and specifically their glass reflections, from the Zermatt area in winter. Remember you can click on any image to see a higher quality enlargement – it really is worth it!
Linda Grashoff (Photoblog: Romancing Reality – do take a look at her blog) commented on my recent post of Zermatt buildings in ‘Ancient and Modern’ saying “I’m particularly taken by the bottom fourth of the second one, where the reflected triangular peaks of the mountains echo the triangles of the window frames and the stairs…. I don’t suppose you took another shot of just that area?” And the answer is: Yes Linda, and thanks very much for your comment, I did take another image of the lower part of the staircase and here it is:
Reflectivity is very often about the angle of view and whereas the image of the upper floors of this staircase shown in Ancient and Modern is primarily about transparency, allowing that superb staircase to be shown to maximum advantage, when you see the bottom section then there is a controlled overlay of the reflected peaks.
The next image is I think of another section of this large building. With curtains drawn, the windows are better able to reflect the wintry scene outside.
For the last two images we move uphill firstly to one of the highest lift stations – Hohtalli – where the lift housing is cloaked partially in reflective bronzed glass. The mountain reflected and slightly distorted is the Rimpfischhorn.
Finally some of the old Stadels in the Findeln valley have been expensively and beautifully modernised in the last few years and are now available to rent. Sailing uphill on a chairlift my eye alighted on this chalet with a huge corner window reflecting the property’s decking.
Winter makes this shot – in summer I suspect it will lose a lot of its atmosphere, but the chairlift doesn’t run in summer so I will not be able to make the comparison