As you read this on a screen, ask yourself this: what is glass in the phygital world? A transparent boundary, or could it be more? Space Popular collaborates with Sto Werkstatt to give you an alternative take on this highly prevalent material.

An array of bright colours and complex forms, the installation resembles a castle of glass doorways, arches and stairs. VR technology completely alters the experience and visitors are left to float in a variable world where physical elements are blown out of proportion. As visual perception is made unreliable, the other senses take over and a haptic rediscovery of glass occurs as visitors walk around mountains, shimmering glass and textured façades in the virtual world.

Initially built playfully in a fantasy setting as a 3D-model, Glass Chain features a construction of different textures, patterns and colours. The virtual design by Space Popular was then flattened and printed on sheets of StoVentec Glass, creating an opaque canvas in the physical realm for visitors to touch and admire. 

Inspired by the infamous exchange of letters between a group of German architects at the turn of the 20th century initiated by Bruno Taut – the architect behind the 1914 Glass Pavilion – the Glass Chain encourages visitors to visualize a new purpose for glass in building design. Indeed, Space Popular’s nod to Taut never strays too far from Glass Pavilion, and even appears in the décor of the exhibition at the Sto Wekstatt – printed onto the textile curtains that surround the Glass Chain.

‘We think about the human mind as the ultimate architectural site’

‘We think about the human mind as the ultimate architectural site,’ explain Fredrik Hellberg and Lara Lesmes, co-founders of Space Popular. ‘As part of a developing movement that is expanding on ideas of visual perception and environmental psychology in architecture, we are interested in design criteria that bridge virtual and physical realities.’

A century after the construction of the symbolic Glass Pavilion, the London-based duo repurpose its modernist mindset and bring innovation to an otherwise static material – opening a window towards a new frontier, bringing the virtual and physical realms closer together.