Exterior Night View, University of Ottawa, Vanier Hall, Ottawa, Ontario
Diamond Schmitt Architects Exterior Night View, University of Ottawa, Vanier Hall, Ottawa, Ontario

A minimalist aesthetic features clean lines; few, striking materials; and an architectural profile that is dramatic in its simplicity. Minimalism began as an art movement after World War II and rose to prominence as a design aesthetic in the 1960s and 1970s. Some cite Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as being the first leader of minimalist design, and his basic, yet striking structures are constructed simply to maximize space and a feeling of openness. Today, John Pawson and Tadao Ando, Hon. FAIA, are well-known minimalist architects who rely on glass, concrete, and the elements to create structures that are elegantly simple.

Glass can be an effective choice when planning a project centered around minimalism; it is unobtrusive, can be nearly invisible if need be, and will allow plenty of light to filter deep into a building’s interior spaces. It has the power to turn an office into a work of art, while allowing the area to remain functional, or to allow a designer to make a statement with a single hue.

In modern office spaces, glass can allow for the sensations of openness and expansive space characteristic of minimalism. For example, instead of heavy corridors in the workplace, translucent, acid-etched glass like AGC Glass North America’s Matelux can be used to enclose conference rooms or private offices, presenting the illusion of increased space. Such glass with an acid-etched, satin finish elevates a space, while keeping the visual noise to a minimum. It also can be possible to construct office walls from ultra-clear glass, giving the impression that rooms flow seamlessly into one another. Glass can help extend sight lines through individual offices, incorporating the interior space with the world outside.

Interior View, Dallara Technology Center
CSO Architects Interior View, Dallara Technology Center

Similarly, as urban centers become increasingly dense and new construction is still in high demand, more designers are able to play with glass to make small spaces appear larger and to maximize light. Using glass partitions between rooms or to create nooks and areas in a loft can keep light filtering through; sandblasted glass walls offer privacy and aesthetic appeal; and glass shower enclosures present the illusion of space in a smaller bathroom. With floor-to-ceiling windows, high-rise patio spaces accessed by glass doors, and glass architectural features in lobbies and entranceways, modern apartments are able to feel light and clean, no matter where they are located.

Bringing design back to basics with minimalism is a trend that seems timeless, or that is becoming increasingly appealing as a way to offset life’s increasingly fast pace. Yet, eventually when minimalism does fall out of favor, due to the cyclical nature of design, glass will always be there, as a necessary component, and basic need, for any design imaginable.

Twelfth Street Residence Interior
Minguell-McQuary Architects Twelfth Street Residence Interior

Learn more about the world’s largest glass manufacturer, AGC, which offers easy and cost-effective access to interior and specialty glass products, here.