I’ve always loved the liberal use of glass in modern builds.
Although I can think of plenty of friends, working in the interior design world, who despise the proliferation of glass and steel – it’s a fad that I can’t get enough of.
I’m a sucker for high contrast. Whether it’s present in the mixture of building materials or design ethos, a liberal approach to the use of contrast and comparison can lift a building out of of humdrum banality and into the realms of the dream-like.
One of my favourite builds, that has transformed my approach to glass, is St. Pancras International Railway Station. Arriving there for a train is like stepping into a golden age of travel. The all-encompassing network of glass beautifully reflects and absorbs the light, or lack of, coming through from the sky above. Its a wonderful touch to give to, what would otherwise be, a very austere and serious building.
By almost opening up the roof to the elements, commuters are treated to an ever changing panoramic vista of the London skyline. Whilst you battle with the ticket barriers, or gaze up at the departures board – coffee in hand – your eyes naturally drift to the enormous roof. Arriving on a clear night from Paris, you can almost forgive yourself for thinking that you had never left the City of Love, such is the grandeur and elegance of St. Pancras.
Part of the allure of the use of glass, is the illusion of space that it lends certain areas. The eye is naturally drawn to the bright and colourful, regardless of the drab surroundings you may find yourself in, if there is a window open to a bright populated street outside, you will be automatically transported to that street. The sounds and colours, wonderful distractions, will push out the grim reality that you find yourself in – allowing the outside world to invade the inside.
Although many house photographers decry the overuse of glass in domestic environments, I adore it. Taking grand structural ideas, like the glass roof in St. Pancras, and planting them in living spaces is part of what makes domestic design so fascinating.
There’s nothing I like more than being surprised by a home. Sometimes they can get so predictable. You can open a rustic, ranch-style front door and know that there’ll be a farm-style kitchen through the next door. You can see the wide-faux-fireplace coming a mile off and I’ve now got a sixth sense for the extensive use of decking in a back garden now.
On a tour of Merseyside homes recently, taking photographs for a local Estate Agent, I was taken back by the indulgence in grandeur that I was presented with. Although I’m probably belying my closely guarded cultural stereotypes, I had not expected to see such decadence in design when it came to the conservatories in Chester, Warrington and Liverpool. (Thanks to Allerton Windows )The stunning use of glass, put together by a locally based firm, allowed heaps of light into the living spaces, granting otherwise small domestic arrangements a sense of grandeur.
From the roads that these houses border, you don’t expect a thing. Almost entirely uniform in their design – parts of Merseyside can feel eerily similar to the American notion of a traditional Suburbia. Children swoop through cul-de-sacs on bikes, whilst strikingly wide roads give cars ample space to pass each other. Each home is well looked after; in certain parts of Chester, on a sunny day you could almost forgive yourself for thinking you’d dropped yourself into a San Francisco neighbourhood.
These homes have a surprise behind every front door, in these neighbourhoods nothing is as it first appears. Double-glazed doors open onto brightly decorated reception areas with deep carpets and jarring artwork. Open kitchen areas look out on spacious orangeries, serving as a living space and dining room. There was even the odd swimming pool dotted about in homes ‘across the water’.