Glass blocks, or glass bricks as they are also widely referred to, date back to the late 1880s when they were produced in squares and hexagonal shapes by Swiss Architect & Engineer Gustave Falconnier. In the 1930’s, further development of machine production created more advanced types of glass bricks which became easier to work with. Designed to be laid in the traditional style of masonry, glass blocks quickly became known for their ground-breaking qualities. This adaptable, modular and thermally stable material allowed for the flow of light without sacrificing privacy. Jackpot.Glass blocks quickly caught the attention of various modernist architects. Pierre Chareau famously used it in the design of his 1932 masterpiece La Maison de Verre (House of Glass) in Paris, conceived as an illuminated box that until this day symbolizes architecture before its time.
In the late 90s, French luxury brand Hermès enlisted the of-the-moment prolific architect Renzo Piano to create their iconic 10-story Tokyo’s Ginza headquarters, constructed of 13,000 bespoke square glass blocks.
Fast forward to 2016, and another French fashion brand CHANEL commissioned MVRDV to design their flagship store in Amsterdam, which saw the architects replace the original brick facade of a former townhouse with glass blocks, utilising cutting-edge glass technology.
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