Solutions from the past can often provide practical answers for the problems of the future; as the London-based design and research firm, Space Popular demonstrate with their "Timber Hearth" concept. It is a building system that uses prefabrication to help DIY home-builders construct their own dwellings without needing to rely on professional or specialized labor. Presented as part of the ongoing 2018 Venice Biennale exhibition “Plots Prints Projections,” the concept takes inspiration from the ancient "hearth" tradition to explain how a system designed around a factory-built core can create new opportunities for the future of home construction.
In this essay British architect and academic Dr. Timothy Brittain-Catlin presents the work of Space Popular, an emerging practice exploring the meaning of and methods behind deploying virtual reality techniques in the architectural design process.
Architectural practice, especially in the UK, is moving fast into a realm where history plays as much a part as medium. But the ways in which architects work have been transformed entirely from those of the past, generating a fundamental conflict: how in practice does design through virtual reality use history? In the earliest days of fly-throughs we all realised that we could show our work to clients in a way that even the least plan-literate could understand. We could develop details three-dimensionally and from different angles, even representing different times of day. But what next? How do we engage historical knowledge and experience of buildings?
The Glass House has no purpose other than to be beautiful. It is intended purely as a structure for exhibition and should be a beautiful source of ideas for “lasting” architecture but is not intended as such. According to the poet Paul Scheerbart, to whom it is dedicated, the Glass House should inspire the disillusion of current architecture’s far-too-restricted understanding of space and should introduce the effects and possibilities of glass into the world of architecture.
Bruno Taut [above] described his Glashaus for the 1914 Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne, Germany, as a "little temple of beauty"; as "reflections of light whose colors began at the base with a dark blue and rose up through moss green and golden yellow to culminate at the top in a luminous pale yellow.” The Glass Pavilion, designed based on its potential effects on those who perceived it, was supposed to create vivid experiences. The site was the human mind.
"The Glass Chain" (Die Gläserne Kette in its native German) was an exchange of written letters initiated by Bruno Taut in November 1919. The correspondence lasted only a year, and included the likes of Walter Gropius, Hans Scharoun, and Paul Gösch. In the letters, the penfriends—thirteen in all—speculated and fantasized about the possibilities of glass, imagining, in the words of Fredrik Hellberg and Lara Lesmes (Space Popular), "fluid and organic glass follies and colourful crystal cathedrals covering entire mountain chains and even reaching into space."