Translucent, Textured, Tinted: 5 Light-Filled Spaces Using Glass Block

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By Kate Reggev / Published by Kate Reggev
Glass block -- the old-school, square blocks of translucent glass found in many buildings constructed from the 1940s through the 1990s -- sits at a unique intersection of structural capabilities, light-filtering qualities, and versatility in orientation and placement.

Invented in the early 1900s and originally used in floors and ceilings as skylights, glass block was soon used in other constructions including staircases, interior partitions, windows, and even entire facades (like the seminal Maison de Verre in Paris by Pierre Chareau). Most glass blocks consist of two glass faces with a hollow center, and can use tinted, textured, translucent, or transparent glass. Although the popularity of glass block dropped by the 1970s, the material experienced a renewed interest in the 1990s, and today is again being appreciated for its strength, durability, and adaptability to horizontal, vertical, and even curved surfaces. Here, we take a look at five spaces that apply glass block in a range of ways and forms.

1. A Converted Garage with An Industrial Edge by Erica Severns

Translucent, Textured, Tinted: 5 Light-Filled Spaces Using Glass Block - Photo 1 of 5 - 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, with its exposed surfaces and oak flooring, from the sleek, modern bathroom and acts as a stylistic buffer between the two spaces.

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, with its exposed surfaces and oak flooring, from the sleek, modern bathroom and acts as a stylistic buffer between the two spaces.

Translucent, Textured, Tinted: 5 Light-Filled Spaces Using Glass Block - Photo 2 of 5 - On the interior of a bathroom in a renovation in Hawaii, 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. <span style="color: rgb(204, 204, 204); font-size: 13px;">Photo by Olivier Koning</span>

On the interior of a bathroom in a renovation in Hawaii, 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

Translucent, Textured, Tinted: 5 Light-Filled Spaces Using Glass Block - Photo 3 of 5 - 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 is 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.

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 is 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.

Translucent, Textured, Tinted: 5 Light-Filled Spaces Using Glass Block - Photo 4 of 5 - 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.

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.

Translucent, Textured, Tinted: 5 Light-Filled Spaces Using Glass Block - Photo 5 of 5 - Light was "of the essence" in the renovation of a former city planning office that was transformed into a residential building. A glass block window in the bathroom was a key part of this, allowing natural light to enter the space but still providing necessary seclusion and privacy.

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