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A glass house you could actually live in


February 3, 2014

The four-story Vertical Glass House, by architectural firm Atelier FCJZ  (Photo: Atelier FCJZ)

The four-story Vertical Glass House, by architectural firm Atelier FCJZ (Photo: Atelier FCJZ)

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Glass houses aren't typically very practical to live in (take the Santambrogio home for example), but the Vertical Glass House differs from most similar structures thanks to a design that combines architectural novelty with a degree of privacy. Though it sports see-through ceilings and floors, a concrete facade ensures occupants are shielded from the gaze of passers-by.

Located in Shanghai, China, Vertical Glass House was originally designed for an architecture competition back in 1991, before finally being constructed by Atelier FCJZ last year for the Shanghai West Bund Biennial Architecture and Contemporary Art exhibition. It now serves as an occasional guesthouse for visiting artists and architects.

The four-story dwelling has a total floor space of 170 sq m (1,829 sq ft), but a physical footprint of only around 40 sq m (430 sq ft). Its outer appearance is very simple and the concrete facade is broken only by a few small slits which emit light onto the street outside at night.

Except for an occasional panel to support the spiral staircase, the ceilings, floors, and even the roof within Vertical Glass House are all constructed from durable 7-cm (2.7-in) thick tempered glass slabs, which are supported by a large central steel column and framework. This layout enables visitors to view each room in the house from top to bottom by simply looking up or down.

Thankfully, the dining room table isn't see-through, so despite its provocative placement above the bathroom, diners should have a chance to avoid glimpsing a view of the toilet as they eat – though perhaps a well-placed rug would be a sound investment.

Source: Atelier FCJZ via Arch Daily

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

WOW! Finally! * A prison designed for American Banksters! * This bizarre monolith firmly anchors ground zero of 'Just Plain Nuts'. * Interesting and obscenely expensive Sci Fi movie set? * Adds resounding emphasis to 'Don't sh*t where you eat'!

Robert Walther

Where do these people get the money to erect such stupidity? It seems a totally pointless exercise, something that would soon bore the residents completely. The outer shell of concrete would only increase the weirdness. It would make a little bit more sense for the concrete walls being replaced by 'electronic' mirror glass sheets, so at least a person could look out and see something without also being on display 24/7. There are photos on the web - unfortunately I cannot find the link quickly - of a city street corner public toilet, a mirrored cube from the outside, but transparent looking out from the inside.

The Skud

It looks like the house on Thirteen Ghosts:


Paul Briers

Quite impractical, but still interesting as a styling exercise for architects who love to get their hands on "out of the box" (!) expressive design.

In the real world, one would have to change much of it to make it a livable space for the occupants.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteen_Ghosts I think the glass house in the movie Thirteen Ghosts would be way more desireable to live in (especially if one does not have thirteen ghosts to contend with or a evil guy trying to take over the world).

IMO, it is way to stark to actually live in. I would have opaque glass where the bathroom is and smart glass everywhere else (one flip of a switch, the glass is opaque so people on the higher floors won't freak out). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_glass



Living in the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Townhouses in Detroit, some 55 years old now with glass facades and soon to become a national Landmark I find this design to be well fitted to turning people into depressed psychopaths and toilette fetishists.

Two steps forward and 3 steps back.



Lewis Dickens

Could work nicely as a safe house or jail. And if it didn't have the see through ceiling on the bathroom could work well as a bomb or biological shelter, if fitted with the proper ventilation and water cleaners. Otherwise keep the windows on the walls.

Matt Fletcher

This is great for future prison design where guards can monitor inmates 24/7! Awesome!!!


Yuck. Someone's architectural skills forgot to include a balance of visual beauty. We don't need anymore concrete jungle eyesores mucking up communities.

Marco Corona

As Soupy Sez, "People who live in glass houses, should dress in the basement."


The previous commenters seem to unaware that all they've said is, "It's not to my taste." Fine, it's not to your taste. What people don't get is it's for the person paying for it to decide if THEY lke it. That exposed, public site is extremely challenging to provide security and privacy for. 4 solid walls with only minimal openings serves to provide the needed privacy and security. As for my taste, my biggest beef is with the bathroom being so exposed to the rest of the interior. The real question is why would someone build a house on such a challenging site. The costs were driven far higher than a more typical site would require.


yes it is a good design for a limited space and the concept is interesting, but I would want to be able to see out, is there a garden at the back? and solid floors then it would be making the best of all available space, but I do not think that a family could live in it.


What is wrong with some of you people? I love it, give me the keys, I'd totally move in. Honestly, I don't see why we must continue to live in the same old boring rehashed styled architectural buildings over and over. Most of us are stuck in either the suburban dwelling, the over done condos with hideous and boring wood floors, renovated brownstones or simple lack of creative design living spaces. I don't understand why we even put up with it. Most of these place are not efficient, lack durability, lack contextualization and diffuse inspiration.

Hiroshima's Optical Glass House visits creative designers like Tadao Ando and Louis Kahn, people that made up his mind to do something completely different and outside of the box.

Tito Young

Hallooooo, wake up guys, this is not a family home. It is an art piece.

Creativity like this does not need to be practical. What it does is to stimulate the mind. It encourages you to think outside the box. - That is indeed why they use it as a guest house for visiting artists and architects.

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