Lava Tube
(Lutgens and Tarbuck,
Essentials of Geology, 1995:52)


This research, which studies glass as a building material, found its focus and fundamental source of meaning with the simple question, where does glass come from?

Glass is made from the earth of course. When glass architecture can be understood as transparent stone transmuted in situ from the materials of the earth (stone, sand, silt, clay...) , all of the optical and structural virtues of glass as an engineering material can be anchored by, a physical relationship to and metaphysical understanding of, the landscape.

Silicon and oxygen are the most abundant elements on Earth. Together they form SiO44- tetrahedra, which are the primary building blocks of commercial glassmaking and the basis of the silicate rocks which make up over 95% of the Earth's crust, an overwhelming testament to its durability and role in the formation of this place that we live. Given that silica and glass modifiers, such as metal oxides, used in the engineering of different types of glass exist within the ground in a nearly infinite variety of composition, proportion and geologic formation, the potential exists for glass to be formed as a distinct local building material with qualities which are connected to the history of the earth from which it is formed.




Given that the earth of any potential building site could be melted and formed as a glass building material in situ, how can the process and product of a glass architecture be enriched by the specific conditions of individual sites and the opportunity of on site formation?

Pursuing this question has involved:  


Cultivating an understanding of the glassy state.



Developing a set of tools and methods of glass forming to be brought to site



Testing through design: determining the material palette and formal possibilities, for in situ vitrification, available at and appropriate to inhabiting a particular site.