National Glass Centre


In architecture the façade of a building has always been a key design feature - defining the identity, or face, of a building. This exhibition will explore through artists’ and architects’ work, how facades can be used to both reveal and conceal – and often what, upon closer scrutiny, lies beneath the surface: the tension between appearance and reality. One of the most striking architectural developments over the last 50 years has been the increasing presence of glass façades, which have become all but ubiquitous, at least in larger towns and cities, affecting both our environment and people’s lives. Firstly shops, then offices and more recently apartment blocks have been clad increasingly in ever greater expanses of glazing.

This exhibition explores some of the origins of this in the radical writings and architecture of the 1910s onwards, the subsequent development of glass technologies, and the range of its manifestations and effects since. It also throws this seeming ‘triumph of transparency’ into relief, by contrasting it with its inverse: the blank, dark or broken/blind façade in architecture. And reflecting contemporary developments, it will look at how new glazed-façade technology seems to metamorphose between the transparent and the opaque, hinting at a more ambiguous play between material surface and its depth - what lies beneath.

With: Heike Klussmann / Thorsten Klooster/ Alexander Apóstol / Foster + Partners / Gelitin / Gregor Schneider / Ian Kiaer / Jeffrey Sarmiento/ Michael Raedecker / Mossessian and Partners / Ola Kohlemainen / Phil Coy / Sauerbruch Hutton. Curated by Rob Wilson