The Glass Pavilion was commissioned by the glass industry for the 1914 Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. Bruno Taut’s structure demonstrated the various ways glass could be used in a building, but also indicated how the material might be used to orchestrate human emotions and assist in the construction of a spiritual utopia. Taut’s interest in this aspect of glass (explored more intensively during the First World War and later in his book Alpine Architecture and in the Glass Chain letters) had been stimulated by the writer Paul Scheerbart whom he had met in 1912 and who argued for an earthly paradise based on a new architecture of glass and colour. Subsequently, Scheerbart wrote Glasarchitektur (Glass Architecture) in 1914, which he dedicated to Taut, while Taut produced his Glass Pavilion and inscribed aphorisms from Scheerbart on the lintels of the 14 side walls.
The Pavilion structure was raised up on a concrete plinth, the entrance reached by two flights of steps (one on either side of the building), which gave the pavilion a temple-like quality. The glazed walls were topped by a dome of reinforced concrete ribs and a double skin of glass: reflecting glass on the outside and coloured prisms inside. In the interior, the colour effects produced by sunlight were enhanced by the reflections of the pool and water cascade on the lower level, visible through a circular opening in the floor. Two flights of glass steps enclosed with glass walls produced the sensation of descending to the lower level ‘as if through sparkling water’. The cascade was made of yellow glass, while the pool was of its complementary colour, violet. A mechanical kaleidoscope overhead projected images, an early version of a light show, intensifying the overall impression on the visitor.
‘The Glass Pavilion’
Designed by Bruno Taut (1880–1938)
1914, reconstruction 1992–3
MDF, brass, acrylic and other materials
h. 70cm, diam. 74cm
Werkbundarchiv, Museum der Dinge, Berlin
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