Gokhan Avcioglu of GAD was interviewed by the Şişecam Şeffaf Bülten and XXI magazine on his views in architecture and glass. GAD as a practice has had extensive experience in architecture in glass dating back to important projects such as the Exploded House in Bodrum and The Marmara Esma Sultan and Borusan Music House in Istanbul. Avcigolu stressed the importance of the environment in the design of advanced techniques of glass architecture such as the double facades with glass found in Esma Sultan and Borusan projects.
As a building material, what are the concepts that glass conjures?
I can confidently say that the use of glass is depends on the areas and topics of the projects. Glass is a deformable material that can change the feel and value of a project. Its use is variable; it can be a highlighted in a project, but it can also be a secondary but still important material. For that reason, glass doesn’t conjure up any concepts for me. It is a concept of its own.
Which criteria do you use to choose the perfect glass for your projects (in terms of color, thickness, and reflectivity)?
So long as controlling the climate and maintaining privacy are taken into consideration, with glass, everything is possible. For me there are two important features of glass. The first is the property of reflection, which we have used in our favor in indoor and outdoor projects. The best example is our current office and home, GAD Park.
The second feature, the impact on the greenhouse effect. These two features have an important role in the choice and use of glass. That is why we should understand the climate and air circulation situation, the relation to the sun, and everything beforehand.
Have you been inspired by an architectural work for its use of glass?
One of the first examples I have in my mind is Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. The inspiration in this work is the amount of glass that was used in the project. For the time, it was the first time glass was used on such a massive project.
Using of glass and glass structures has always excited me, but the most inspiring glass project for me is Jean Nouvel’s Cartier building located in Paris. Also, I think MVRDV’s Crystal House is one of the best uses of glass in a building.
What are your thoughts on improving the use of glass in buildings?
I always look differently at glass in my projects, which is why its features always change. Using glass is easier in more public projects. However, in projects where you must think about privacy, it is harder. Almost 20 years ago, in our “Exploded House” project in Bodrum, we used glass in open and semi-open places. We applied 4,5 meter retractable panes, almost like a car window. This unusual use of glass allowed an uncut connection between the indoors and outdoors. In this way, glass helped hot air drift out of the rooms, thus creating an outdoor climate.
With a different approach, we wanted an emptiness-fullness relationship in our new Cappadocia project. That is why glass can be used very differently according to the project, its size, and its value.
How can we identify these features on your projects? How do you use glass?
As I said before, these features change with the project. For example, at Esma Sultan, our approach to glass was almost ghostlike. Also, right now we are trying to use the glass merely to fill voids in the Cappadocia project, embedding the material deeply in the designated areas to minimize reflection and create the feel of emptiness-fullness. This was our main goal. Our glass use is mainly centered on these projects. Also, we can add the Borusan Music House to the list, where we tried to create the same effect as at Esman Sultan.
I can say that in our projects, the most interesting thing about glass is its ability to be a secondary skin inside a building’s original walls.
What are your dreams for how glass can be used in architecture in a more creative way?
I always lose interest if there are any tricks, games, or fantasies. For example, think about a glass bridge or a glass chair. When you think about it, this material is not really safe for those uses. These are ideas in which I am starting to lose interest. However, any uses other than these are fine by me. We will wait and see the future and what is going to happen next.
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