Page N1.1 . 05 June 2002                     
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    Classical Glass

    by ArchitectureWeek

    When choosing glass as a structural material, architects have traditionally accepted translucency as a necessary tradeoff for strength. A recent awards program, however, has demonstrated an application for clear, laminated glass which both performs structurally and, through its transparency, defers to its historic surroundings.

    In May, 2002, the DuPont Benedictus Awards program recognized the Talus du Temple for its use of laminated glass. This small pavilion near Avallon in the Burgundy region of France was designed by Dirk Jan Postel of Kraaijvanger-Urbis, The Netherlands. Appearing nearly invisible from some angles, the structure features glass walls that support the roof yet give spectacular views out to the French countryside. The glass pavilion was built on a limestone abutment that had been constructed as an explosion chamber to destroy a railway bridge during World War II. From the bridge's top, the pavilion now enjoys 360-degree views to the river and the Burgundy landscape.

    The aim of the design, says Postel, "was to express the magic of the roof floating on nothing." The building's cantilevered roof, weighing about 4400 pounds (2000 kilograms), is supported by just two panels of laminated glass. The roof was constructed separately then lowered carefully onto the glass to evenly distribute the load. One judge noted, "I have probably not seen a finer example of use of laminated glass as a total structural element." Another said: "The absence of all interfering elements is interesting. It's a fine example of historic preservation: such a clearness of what is old and new; one could even call it minimalist historic preservation. One highlights and strengthens the other."

    The annual awards program showcases the work of international architects and students who make innovative use of laminated glass. The competition is named for Edouard Bénédictus, a French chemist who discovered the process for laminating glass. The material is specified by architects because of its clarity, sturdiness, and resistance to sound and heat transmission. Other honors went to French and Japanese architects. More information is available at the Web site for the DuPont Benedictus Awards.

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    ArchWeek Image

    The DuPont Benedictus Awards program recognized the Talus du Temple by Dutch architect Dirk Jan Postel of Kraaijvanger-Urbis.
    Photo: Christian Richters

    ArchWeek Image

    The glass pavilion was built on a limestone abutment from World War II.
    Photo: Christian Richters

    ArchWeek Image

    Elevations and sections of the Talus du Temple.
    Image: Dirk Jan Postel/ Kraaijvanger-Urbis


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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