Overview of realized examples in architecture using structural cast glass blocks


  • Faidra Oikonomopoulou TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment




In view of the meticulous and lengthy cooling process discussed in the previous chapters, in architectural applications solid cast glass components have been commercialized up to the size range of standard masonry bricks. Owing to their large cross-sectional area, solid glass bricks are promising structural components that can fully exploit glass’s compressive strength. By forming repetitive components, self-supporting, 3-dimensional all-glass structures of undisturbed transparency can be achieved. Nonetheless, at present, little and rather sporadic exploration has been made in the use of casting as a manufacturing method for structural glass in architecture. To a degree, this is attributed to the existence of only a few realized examples of self-supporting structures made of solid cast glass elements. The, so far, limited demand has in turn led to the absence of a standardized manufacturing process, to a lack of consistent engineering data and to a general unawareness of the potential of cast glass in structural applications in architecture. Currently, including the contribution of this dissertation, there are 3 structural systems employed for creating self-supporting structures out of cast glass components: (a) with a metal substructure, (b) adhesively bonded blocks, (c) interlocking glass blocks. The former two have been applied in real structures, whereas interlocking glass blocks are for the first time introduced as a building system through this dissertation. In this chapter, the 3 concepts are briefly presented, analyzed and evaluated in terms of manufacturing, structural system, level of transparency, ease of assembly and disassembly.

Author Biography

Faidra Oikonomopoulou, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Faidra (Phaedra) Oikonomopoulou was born on 1984 in Athens, Greece. In 2009 she graduated with a diploma (MSc) of Architect Engineer from the Faculty of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens [NTUA], ranking among the top students in her class. For the coming one year she worked both as an architect engineer in Athens and as a travel article contributor. In 2010 she followed a second master degree in Building Technology at the Delft University of Technology. It was her MSc thesis initiative that introduced her to glass as a structural material: "The design of a fully glass pavilion for the Temple of Apollo Epikourios in Peloponnese". She proudly presented the findings of her thesis in Challenging Glass 3 Conference. Following her graduation in 2012, Faidra embarked on an adventure in Namelok, a Maasai village in Kenya, to work on the use of mud bricks for construction and pursue her other big passions: travelling and wildlife spotting. Many elephants and lions later she returned to Delft as a researcher for a project on innovative glass joints, followed by a six-month internship in an engineering office specializing in structural glass applications in Athens.

In 2014 Faidra returned to Delft to work on a glass project that she knew little about: the Crystal Houses Façade. Faidra was the lead PhD researcher on the research and development of the applied adhesively bonded system. After approximately one and a half years of research and experimental work, together with colleague Telesilla Bristogianni they supervised the construction of the Crystal Houses façade and even built together with the construction crew the first 1.5 meter of the glass wall. For her work in the Crystal Houses Faidra has co-received multiple awards, including the Innovation Award 2016 by the Society of Façade Engineers and the Talent met Toekomst 2017. Through the Crystal Houses façade project Faidra discovered the architectural potential of cast glass, but also saw the engineering challenges involved. Together with Telesilla they have been awarded two 4TU. Bouw Lighthouse grants for innovative research on cast glass and their research on recycled cast glass building components was nominated for the New Material Award 2018.

Faidra pursued her PhD degree while working as a Researcher/Lecturer at the Architectural Engineering + Technology Department of the Faculty of Architecture at Delft University of Technology. Currently Faidra is employed as a Senior Researcher & Lecturer at the same department, where she continues her research on structural cast glass. Faidra has given invited talks and workshops on the structural potential of cast glass in several institutions, universities and companies in Europe and USA. Her vision is to create circular, load-bearing and aesthetically intriguing cast glass structures. Meanwhile she continues pursuing her other big passions as well, by travelling all over the world and encountering rare animals in the wild.