VISION Issue 50 - Page 14

VISION 50 — UNDER THE MICROSCOPE So the lab is really about using the best materials for the task? Our work is concentrated, more lyrical and so glass isn’t looked at as a material or result in itself. If it’s a round building, if it needs a round window, that’s not about the glass so much as glass supporting the idea. A lot of designers get excited about materials and want to express the material itself in the building. I’d like to think we do the exact opposite. We want to introduce interesting ideas and theories and make buildings express those ideas and the glass is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. What do you feel about the capacity of glass to provide what the British architect Peter Cook refers to as the ‘glister, glisten and gleam’ of glass to generate the lively, rather than dead surface. That’s right and that will vary on the time of day and weather and sometimes it’ll be a complete mirror, like our ocular windows at JMR. Sometimes it can be if it’s early in the evening and the lights are on and it’s completely transparent. That’s why it’s special. Apart from the health benefits of opening interiors to natural light, glazing can liberate and visually, if not physically, release occupants into the landscape. That’s right. I think what you’re referring to is the framing. It’s broadly used and misused, but framing is incredibly important with windows and glazing delineates a line in space in an interior what you see when you look out. In this case JMR’s a perfect example in that it has a high-ish window sill, plus there are lab benches everywhere, and quite a low-ish window head. But that view is enjoyed mostly by people sitting on stools, so that’s the stool- height strip, if you like, for up to 100 students looking at the microscope then looking out the window. That’s the focus of action.