Constructed with steel and glass, but looking light as air. In various styles of convoluted post-modern design but looking like castles out of a fairy tale... Buildings made of glass facades, or even entirely of glass, are a marvel of modern engineering.
With the advent of sophisticated architecture software that enables architects to envision and calculate the physical nuances of building impossible structures, humans can now literally touch the skies, by standing on glass.
Yes, it's possible today that incredibly detailed and well-thought out structures are being created daily. They break records and win awards; their architects are the cream of their kind. Here are a few examples of the best glass structures from around the world.
Inaugurated in April 2004, the Gherkin is an iconic, energy-efficient, and contemporary landmark in London, constructed on the bomb site of the Chamber of Shipping and the Baltic Exchange, located on St Mary Axe Street.
It received numerous awards, one of which, the RIBA Stirling Prize, was awarded through a unanimous decision. The building was sold to new owners in 2006 for £630 million, and resold again in 2014 for £700 million.
It was created to cover the underground lobby in front of the museum, to deal with the millions walk into the former Finance Ministry. Made of 673 panes of glass, the pyramid's function is to divert the crowd to different parts of the Louvre. Another smaller, but famous landmark is the underground inverted pyramid in the shopping mall in front of the Louvre.
It is surrounded by an artificial lake so that the hemisphere above ground is reflected in the water to make it look like a whole egg. Visitors access the building by walking through an underground tunnel under the lake. It is home to an opera theater with a seating capacity of 5,452 people.
It represents the transition of the Czech from communism (static) to democracy (dynamic). It was earlier named after the dancing couple of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Originally visualized as a cultural center, it houses offices and a top floor restaurant and is featured on a gold coin issued by the Czech National Bank in 2005.
Finished by 2009, it boasts of multiple restaurants, bars, lounges, 473 rooms, 67 suites, and all imaginable facilities. Its sheer glass surface reflects the sky and sea.
A popular attraction for tourists, locals, and researchers since 1991, designed after London's Crystal Palace, the main greenhouse is constructed of iron and glass in the French art nouveau style.
The Botanical Museum within has garnered a formidable reputation as the 4th best herbarium in Brazil. Spanning 240,000 sq. m, the garden contains several rare and native species, amazing lighting, conducts local events, and has top-notch recreational facilities.
It is maintained by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and regularly features large-scale avant-garde and abstract art installations and exhibits. It reignited a dying interest in the economy of the city, helped generate revenue and garnered center stage.
The building lives up to its name. Finished in 2006, it functions as an archival building that documents all audio-visual information generated in the Netherlands.
Keeping needs in mind, the archives are situated below ground, in an area where sunlight is not needed. The space above is occupied by a museum, offices, client services, and public space that are situated around a central "well" made for natural light to penetrate.
Inaugurated in 2004, it has 3 halls of differing sizes. The biggest is structurally designed to accommodate interiors to any type of music, with an alterable ceiling, and curtains to draw over wooden walls. The entire building is constructed to support acoustics.
The topmost floor is a public observatory. It is coated in 11,000 glass pieces, and is one of the first in the world to be constructed according to new standards of durability, after 9/11. The building, therefore, can tolerate sways of about 16 inches.
Completed in 2010, it is 110 m tall and made of steel, glass, and concrete. The circular steel frame is supported by a diagonal steel grid that gives it structural strength.
Besides the mentioned list, there are several glass structures to be found everywhere in the world, in every metropolitan city. All these structures are marvels of human engineering, effort and sheer will-power, and many more are on their way to surprise you.
Architects take inspiration from varied sources you'd be surprised to see, like skyscrapers inspired by the 90o twist in the human spine to structures imitating animal forms... Where we have come in terms of architectural structures reflects the kind of impossible buildings that we will get to see in the future.