Façade: Through a Glass Darkly

In ar­chi­tec­ture the façade of a build­ing has al­ways been a key de­sign fea­ture - defin­ing the iden­ti­ty, or face, of a build­ing. This ex­hi­bi­tion will ex­plore through artists’ and ar­chi­tects’ work, how fa­cades can be used to both re­veal and con­ceal – and of­ten what, up­on clos­er scruti­ny, lies be­neath the sur­face: the ten­sion be­tween ap­pear­ance and re­al­i­ty.

One of the most strik­ing ar­chi­tec­tu­ral de­vel­op­ments over the last 50 years has been the in­creas­ing pres­ence of glass façades, which have be­come all but ubiqui­tous, at least in larg­er towns and ci­ties, af­fect­ing both our en­vi­ron­ment and peo­ple’s lives. First­ly shops, then of­fices and more re­cent­ly apart­ment blocks have been clad in­creas­ing­ly in ev­er greater ex­pans­es of glaz­ing.

This ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores some of the ori­gins of this in the rad­i­cal writ­ings and ar­chi­tec­ture of the 1910s on­wards, the sub­se­quent de­vel­op­ment of glass tech­nolo­gies, and the range of its man­i­fes­ta­tions and ef­fects since. It al­so throws this seem­ing ‘tri­umph of trans­paren­cy’ in­to re­lief, by con­trast­ing it with its in­verse: the blank, dark or bro­ken/blind façade in ar­chi­tec­ture. And re­flect­ing con­tem­po­rary de­vel­op­ments, it will look at how new glazed-façade tech­nol­o­gy seems to me­ta­mor­phose be­tween the trans­par­ent and the opaque, hint­ing at a more am­bigu­ous play be­tween ma­te­rial sur­face and its depth - what lies be­neath.


Alexan­der Após­tol / Fos­ter + Part­n­ers / Gel­itin / Gre­gor Sch­nei­der / Thorsten Kloost­er / Heike Kluss­mann / Ian Ki­aer / Jef­frey Sar­mien­to/ Michael Raedeck­er / Mosses­sian and Part­n­ers / Ola Koh­le­mai­nen / Phil Coy / Sauer­bruch Hut­ton.

Cu­rat­ed by Rob Wil­son, de­vel­oped from an orig­i­nal idea by Grainne Sweeney, NGC.

Pre­view & drinks re­cep­tion: Thurs­day 17 March, 6-8pm Na­tio­n­al Glass Cen­tre, Lib­er­ty Way, Sun­der­land (UK), SR6 0GL

About the Exhibition

Na­tio­n­al Glass Cen­tre
Sun­der­land UK