A “Zen” glass block for the Buddha Lecture Room in Thaichung, Taiwan

Date: 22 March 2008

A "Zen" glass block capable of softening direct sunlight while at the same time projecting magical shapes throughout - a myriad of small Buddhas in prayer.

This is the latest innovation from Seves glassblock, the world leader in glass block production and manufacturer of 9,700 glass blocks for the new "Buddha Lecture Room", a religious library in Taichung, Taiwan, designed by architect Daniel Tai. Currently in production, 1,800 glass block pieces customized for the project with an ad hoc design requested by the architect: the image of the Buddha in a meditative position, sitting with legs crossed in a meadow of lotus flowers.

The design is imprinted on the glass block surface during the second phase of manufacturing after it is baked in the kiln. Using a special protective mask, which is applied beforehand, the glass block is dipped in a "bath" of frosting to produce an effect of interplaying contrasts and chiaroscuros between the opaque treated surface and the original transparent surface of the block.

A quick procedure with an amazing effect, this gives new decorative possibilities to the glass block, which can be customized to specifications for each project. In this case, the image of the Buddha becomes not only the aesthetic motif that characterizes the building, but also communicates the immediate legibility of its religious function externally, while obtaining an attenuated and evocative atmosphere internally, one that is propitious to reading and meditation.

This is the latest innovation from the Seves glassblock Tailor Made service which adds the decoration of the glass block surface to the long list of customization possibilities; starting from the simplest modifications of catalogued products such as: glass color, finishings and designs, to advanced experimental customizations to achieve unprecedented results.

The first glass block to be born from these production capabilities was the special squared glass block with the maxi 42x42x12cm format designed for Renzo Piano’s Maison Hermès in Tokyo. This glass block provided the amazing visual effect of a continuous "all glass" façade for the first time, thanks to the combination of large dimensions and wings – the projecting external edges which characterize the glass block.

The new 33x33x12cm, or Q33, square format comes from the partial scale reduction of the Masion Hermès glass block, designed to conserve its aesthetic characteristics while reducing the industrial costs. Used for the first time in the library of Taichung, the dimensions for this glass block measure halfway between the standard Q19 block and the Q42 block, now available in the Seves glassblock catalogue as the large format of Pegasus.

Out of the 9,700 blocks provided for the "Buddha Lecture Room", approximately1,800 will be in the Q33 large format and customized with the image of the Buddha to be used as the façade of the ground floor of the building (overall surface area 195 m²).

Approximately 900 pieces of the satin finished version of the Q33 glass block will be used to cover the corners (surface area of 160 m²) for the entire height of the building. In addition, 7,000 Q19 standard Pegasus glass blocks in the satin finished version, will complete the corners of the tower, in the back of the main building, which contains the utility spaces and deposits for the books (overall surface area of 310 m²).

Installation of the glass blocks by traditional cement laying is expected to begin by June 2008. Construction is estimated to be completed by the end of the year.

600450 A “Zen” glass block for the Buddha Lecture Room in Thaichung, Taiwan glassonweb.com

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