Through the Looking Glass


tea party

I first became fascinated with glass when I met a girl named Alice at one tea party. But rather than tea, we had champagne and wine! She had spent a whole half an hour describing the uniqueness of each oddly shaped wine glass and how it effects the taste. I thought she was mad, until I did my own research and learned how the size of the bowls does effect the aeration of the wine which then is funneled through the sides and finally up through the smaller brim (focusing the aroma before drinking it). Who would’ve thought there was so much research done behind the design of such glasses?

However when we speak of glass, we cannot overlook the material research that Apple has sparked over the last decade. Apple not only understands glass at the extra small (iPhone screen), but also at the extra large (façade of the new Apple headquarter).

The design of the iPhone focusses on the finger-scale aspect of glass and its sensitivity to touch. Can buildings also offer that level of sensitivity? We currently have the technology of electric switchable glass that is able to make itself opaque through an electric switch. Now imagine a space in which visual boundaries are formed through the sense of touch, where opaqueness melts at the touch of a finger and becomes transparent. Maybe, in combination between these two technologies, in less than 5 years, we can enter Alice’s wonderland, hidden just behind the opaque curtain beyond.

That is exactly what makes glass so appealing isn’t it? It is both see-through and reflective, bounding and invisible –there is always a dual reality in glass.

In a proposal for the WWI memorial (Pershing Park, Washington D.C.), I also see two realities – one of 1918 and one of 2016. It is about being there amongst the soldiers at battle but it is also about remembering those who have fallen.

As I stand facing the memorial, I can see through and beyond at the marching Birch trees – here I stand among the soldiers at battle. But as I near and touch the glass surface, it transforms into an opaque and mirrored surface, reflecting (more clearly now) the tag numbers of the fallen soldiers.

A trench stretches along the park, the Western Front –etching its mark as it did only a century ago. Aligning to this trench is a glass wall that reflects the two sides of war – of the glamour as well as the reality of the war. Along the South, the wall reflects seemingly endless rows of birch trees, each standing tall for the 4,700,000 soldiers serving in the war. Along the North, the wall reflects the 116,516 service numbers (etched upon the trench) in honor of the fallen veterans. 

What remains of the Great War lies only in memories (at times vivid and other times faint), in these reflections, relived each day by those who visit it.


Fallen Reflections – Anesta Iwan

The curved glass surface is proposed to stretch almost seamlessly for 200 feet. If we compare this with Apple’s latest built examples, it is not too far-fetched. The new flagship apple stores (such as in Hangzhou and soon to be in San Francisco) now boast 50’ span glass panels.



With the help of Sedak, a German glass company, through their new fully automated production system, they are able to provide the 46’ x 10.5’ curved insulating glass panels for Apple’s new headquarter in Cupertino, CA. By fulling automating the process, they are able to cut production time from days down to less than an hour. It is only a matter of time before we can order glass by the roll and have it unrolled and cut onsite! 200-feet is just around the corner.

I sit in SANAA’s glass museum in Toledo, Ohio and waited for Alice to show up for our scheduled tea time. I look around the curving glass walls and think to myself, how much simpler it would’ve been if such technology (unrolling a spool of glass for instance) were around in 2006 when the museum was first built!



Chamary, JV. 2015. “3D Touch In Iphone 6S Isn’t Just A Gimmick. Here’s How It Works”. Blog. Forbes.

“Does The Wine Glass Affect The Wine’S Taste?”. 2012. Blog. Joy’s Joy Of Wine.

“Glass Pavilion – SANAA”. 2006. Arcspace.Com.

Kelly, Samantha. 2016. “The Spaceship Rises: A First Look At Apple’s New Campus”. Mashable.

Moore, Amy. 2016. “51 Facts About The New Apple Spaceship HQ”. Macworld UK.

“Sedak – Bending”. 2016. Sedak.Com.

“Switchable Glass | Privacy Glass | Smartglass International”. 2016. Smartglass International.


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