5 Light-Filled Spaces That Use Glass Blocks Creatively

Glass blocks—the old-school square blocks of translucent glass found in many buildings constructed from the 1940s through the 1990s—offer light-filtering qualities, structural capabilities, and versatility in terms of both placement and orientation.
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Invented in the early-1900s and originally used in floors and ceilings as skylights, glass blocks were soon used in other construction cases including staircases, interior partitions, windows, and even entire facades (like the seminal Maison de Verre in Paris designed by Pierre Chareau). Most glass blocks consist of two glass faces with a hollow center, and can be tinted, textured, translucent, or transparent. Although the popularity of glass blocks dropped by the 1970s, the material experienced a renewed interest in the 1990s. Today, it's gained new respect for its strength, durability, and adaptability to horizontal, vertical, and even curved surfaces. Here, we take a look at five spaces that apply glass blocks in a range of interesting ways.

1. Converted Garage by Erica Severns

Old concrete walls, multi-pane windows, and glass block walls hint at the previous life of this loft building as a garage. The glass block partition divides the living room from the bathroom and acts as a stylish buffer between the two spaces.

In the interior of a bathroom in a Hawaiian renovation, patterned glass blocks are reused from a previous building and turned into a low, translucent partition providing light and privacy. With all white fixtures, a transom window, and a long mirror, light fills the space, even behind the glass block wall. Photo by Olivier Koning

An outdoor shower in Costa Rica constructed by green homebuilder B-green Homes utilizes a mechanism for French doors from nearly two centuries ago that's sturdy enough to withstand the weight of glass block. The result is a unique shower with a grand entryway that lets natural light filter through.

In an avant-garde design for a suburban home in the Catalonia region of Spain, architecture firm Cloud9 created a ramp-like home with several curved glass block walls on the interior. The blocks were tinted with a digitally created pattern to play with light and transparency in the home.

Light was "of the essence" in the renovation of a former city planning office in France that was transformed into a residential building by Florence Deau. A glass block window in the bathroom was a key part of this, allowing natural light to enter the space while still providing necessary seclusion and privacy.


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