Today, glazing remains one of the world’s most popular building materials for encasing entire structures, no matter the size. However, despite the widespread usage of glass, architects have also been criticized for its homogenous look across skylines and its failure to perform when it comes to building privacy and solar heat gain. Enter fritted glass.
While fritted glass is hardly a new discovery — it dates as far back as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia — the material has seen a resurgence in contemporary architecture due to its favorable performance factors. Specifically, ceramic fritted glass involves the process of screen printing and fusing ceramic frit paint onto glass, during the heat strengthening process of manufacturing; the result is a tough glass that can not only help reduce glare and cut cooling costs, but also offer a decorative appearance with patterns ranging from simple gradients to intricate designs.
In this collection, discover five partnerships between architects and building-product manufacturers that led to the realization of striking fritted glass façades.
Manufactured by Guardian Glass
Designed by Snøhetta and Zeidler Partnership Architects, the Ryerson University Student Learning Center was inspired by historical gathering spaces such as the Stoas and Agoras in ancient Greece; conceived as a “library without books,” the design facilitates natural conditions for groups of students to interact and collaborate, as well as study independently.
Inherent to the building’s functionality is its striking, energy-efficient façade, which combines high-performance glass and ceramic digital printing. The building façade features more than 1,000 panels of Guardian SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 in a triple-glazed assembly, which controls light, manages solar heat gain and contributes to the overall aesthetic goals of the design.
Manufactured by Viracon
For the expansion of the Hockessin Public Library, Ikon.5 Architects designed a floating glass pavilion that would meet the growing demands of the Delaware community. Since Ikon.5 Architects built the south-facing extension very close to a floodplain, the architects integrated cantilevers that would extend into densely vegetated area while avoiding direct contact with the ground itself. The structure harnesses aluminum and ceramic fritted glass enclosures, in order to shield intense sunlight. The patterning of the glass also abstractly recalls the hanging foliage and willow trees in the adjacent park.
Manufactured by Martifier
Since 1962, RMJM’s original building has existed on the southern edge of London’s Holland Park; empty since 2002, the building was sufficiently dilapidated and a candidate for demolition until Chelsfield stepped in with an offer to restore the building in return for permission to build high-end apartments on the surrounding land. To adapt the structure into The Design Museum, OMA and collaborating architect Allies and Morrison retained its unique copper-clad hyperbolic roof while replicated the aquamarine exterior walls with blue-fritted high-performance glazing.
Manufactured by Sapphire Aluminum Industries
The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse by HDR — the first fully integrated comprehensive cancer center in Sydney — was driven by the notion of re-examining transparency within the clinical setting. By sheathing the exterior of the building in louvers, perforated metal panels and fritted glass, the design allows subtle glimpses into the building from the public domain. In addition, these carefully selected elements provide privacy to those receiving care and transform natural light into a dynamic interior design elements.
Established in 1636, the Utrecht University Library is comprised of the library itself, an adjacent parking garage, a courtyard garden and a café. The most captivating feature of the structure is its fenestration, which is fritted with an abstracted image of fossilized papyrus. Importantly, the fritted glazing protects and increases the longevity of the library’s open shelves of books, by softening the amount of daylight that permeates the interior. Altogether, the building facilitates both group and independent study, with 1,300 seats, 500 parking spaces, 560 workstations and an auditorium within its cavernous interior.