Glass Construction Manual. – Review

Glass Construction Manual. – Review – book review

Michael Wigginton

By Christian Schittich, Gerald Staib, Dieter Balkow, Matthias Schuler, Werner Sobek Basle: Birkhauser. 1999. sFr168

To those for whom a manual is a book kept in the glove compartment of their car, this book will deliver a welcome surprise: its title belies its content. The current world of glass technology and applications is reviewed in over three hundred pages of exceptionally well presented technical information, all in the style of its originators, the German magazine Detail. About two thirds of the book comprises a well balanced discussion of the history of glass in architecture, materials science, design data, and construction details. The remaining pages set out 34 examples of buildings using glass in an exemplary fashion. These are all extremely well illustrated, with excellent constructional drawings, and a good balance between small and large projects, and varying applications.

The technical sections promise well, and much of the content gives good advice. The section on details is particularly good, with sound if unadventurous examples. Having said this, parts do not stand up to close scrutiny, reading more like well written text book material than professional guidance. A section on glass stair treads which gives no real idea of how these should be designed, disappoints an architect who wants to know how to go about it; here and elsewhere there are more statements about what problems need solving than solutions. As might be expected in a manual relating to current practice, future technologies are very thinly covered. Aerogel technology, for example, is covered briefly and inaccurately, and what is now called chromogenics (which is probably the most important technology for the future) is not referred to at all.

However, for what it sets Out to do, the book does it well, and is a welcome addition to the expending bibliography in the subject.

COPYRIGHT 2000 EMAP Architecture

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group