Focus Work
The Glasraum: Architecture and Experimentation

Focus Work
Tim Vogel


Commercial exhibitions served modern architects as an ideal opportunity to first test their ideas under laboratory conditions before later translating them into buildings. In my work I examine this hypothesis using a concrete example: the Glass Room, an exhibition hall designed by Lilly Reich and Mies van der Rohe for the Verein Deutscher Spiegelglasfabriken at the Werkbund Exhibition in Stuttgart in 1927. There are two main reasons for its general significance. Firstly, Mies realised his well-known concept of ‘free- flowing space' for the first time in the Glass Room. Secondly, the Glass Room stood for a new exhibition style that merged the exhibition object ‚crystal mirror glass' and a specific spatial concept into a complete installation. This staging of the material set the exhibition architecture and the visitor in a complex interrelationship. I explore this interrelationship in my work with the aim to show that the participation of the visitor is a constructive element of the space and that its atmospheric quality is evoked by the actions and interactions of the visitors involved. I summarise these interactions under the term 'performative space' through which the Glass Room revealed itself. Finally, I use the Villa Tugendhat as an example to show how the examined interaction between the exhibition architecture and the visitors was later translated into the architects’ realised work.


Dr. Matthew James Wells