The current world of architecture and design, efforts are split into two main areas of focus: innovating, and pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved, and enhancing or highlighting structures that already exist. Minimal glazing could be the tool which bridges the gap between these fields.
The question of what type of glazing will best suit a project has existed since glass was first used as a material in construction, and it’s something that architects and designers have had to navigate consistently in their work.
However, through amazing new techniques in glass manufacture and design, many of the limitations that glass used to impose have been blown apart – and minimal glazing plays a big part in this.
What exactly is minimal glazing?
Minimal glazing involves any glass installations, such as windows and doors, which are visually subtle. As technology and techniques have evolved in the world of glazing and construction, it’s now become viable to design glazing which is structurally sound, and aesthetically unobtrusive.
Until relatively recent developments in construction techniques, windows and other glazing solutions usually involved a bulky frame, which was often made from wood. In 1959, ‘float glass’ was developed, which essentially involved cooling molten glass by floating it on a slow-moving bath of liquid tin – a technique that’s still widely used today as the primary method of creating flat glass panels. Until this, the relatively unstable nature of glass production meant that the material wasn’t uniform, and had to be supported within a sturdy (and therefore often visually clunky) frame.
Even with perfectly flat glass now an option, the arrival and subsequent rise in popularity of things like double glazing mean that frames had to accommodate a thick glazed panel. Even with updates to materials (including fibreglass and aluminium), frames remained thick. This wasn’t inherently a problem; but with the arrival of architectural glazing and toughened glass, things changed.
As new methods were developed, such as heat-strengthening and laminating, it became possible to treat glass not purely as a tool with which to let in natural light, or provide a view, but as a construction material in and of itself.
Frames no longer need to be bulky, and in many cases, can be almost completely visually eliminated. This means that a glass installation no longer needs to act as a standalone feature, and can actually highlight or draw attention to other elements in a design or building. By using things like silicone bonding, which effectively eliminates the need for a solid frame between two glass panels, an almost completely uninterrupted effect can be achieved.
Minimal glazing is the term used for any glass installation in a construction which serves a practical purpose – whether that’s to provide a breathtaking view, or shelter you from the rain as you move from one interior space to the next – all without detracting from the other aesthetic elements of a design. Floor to ceiling windows and large sliding glass doors are the optimum of this design ethos.