Pilkington Q&A with Architect George Tsiantar

George Tsiantar, founder and managing director of UK-based practice, Tsiantar Architects, is based in Altrincham, south Manchester. Famed for offering a full range of architectural services since 1987, they have earned a reputation for creating bespoke, luxury properties, as well as commercial buildings and interiors across the UK and beyond.

As part of this work, the practice often recommends and incorporates glass from the Pilkington glass product portfolio to design aesthetically-pleasing, multi-functional spaces.

Here, George explains why glass in architecture is so important, highlighting its enduring aesthetic and practical appeal.

Why do we love glass? What’s its significance to you?

As an architect, glass is the ultimate building tool – it has a magical, versatile quality that allows householders to bring the outside in and people closer to the elements.

As our homes develop, owners are looking for more of that closeness – we’re becoming increasingly connected to the outdoors and our gardens. Achieving an outdoor / indoor balance and getting closer to nature is the ideal for many of us.

Natural light is another precious commodity and glass allows us to harness that power.

How has glass production and technology increased its aesthetic and practical appeal?

Glass has always had a transformative quality and as the technology behind its production continues to develop, so does its popularity.

In the past, designs were limited by practical concerns – these limitations could stifle creativity but the development of new types of glazing means that this is changing.

The reason older, period properties have small windows is that historically glass was very expensive and difficult to manufacture on a large scale.

The Victorians developed new ways of making glass and in the twentieth-century we saw further changes – enabling us to work with larger panes and allowing us more design freedom.

In the future, new developments in glazing technology are likely to offer even more freedom of use, further resulting in an increased demand for residential and commercial glazing.

What are some of the challenges presented by using glass?

Heat generation, solar-control and solar-glare have to be considered – especially in cases where clients and homeowners are looking at using large expanses of glass.

How does the work that Pilkington United Kingdom Limited are doing fit into this?

As a leading source of glazing innovation, Pilkington, part of the NSG Group, has led the way when it comes to developing new types of multi-functional glass.

Products like Pilkington Activ™ self-cleaning glass and the recently launched Pilkington energikare™ Advantage allow architects like myself to have more freedom around the way we use glass in our designs.

Building regulations means that we have to consider how a building or space will be maintained and the related safety issues.

When we’ve looking at a large glass structure, we have to consider how it could be cleaned and how energy-efficient it will be. Using self-cleaning and thermal insulation glass products provides a solution that allows us to use glass in new, inaccessible places; offering greater creative freedom.

Can you talk us through some of the innovative ways glass is being used to design interior spaces at the moment?

Multi-functional or decorative glass, such as the glass products in the Pilkington Oriel Collection, can transform a room or help create ‘spaces within spaces’.

Recently we’ve created an interior Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) glass wall for a commercial client – a cleaning company – where the glass can be used as a screen.

The company is looking at projecting product images on to the screen. When the presentation has ended they press a button and the display disappears. It becomes clear glass again, allowing clients to see the products behind on display.

We’ve created something similar for a domestic client too – a swimming pool window that has the ability to change the way the glass looked at the flick of a switch. The glass pane could be clear if they wanted to keep an eye on their children swimming or opaque when the pool wasn’t in use.

What are the key interior and exterior glazing trends going forward?

Sliding, folding doors continue to be a key trend for 2015, again because of that ability to connect indoor and outdoor spaces and to extend living environments into the garden.

Conservatories – once a design staple – are still there but will continually evolve as we see more demand for garden rooms and orangeries.

We’ve recently created several structures that incorporate a flat roof and glass pyramid in the middle. Using the right glazing ensures the room gets plenty of light and is temperature-controlled, so it shouldn’t overheat in summer or be freezing in winter

Decorative glass from the Pilkington Oriel Collection continues to grow in popularity too.

Patterned and printed etched glass is extremely versatile and can be used to create screens that offer space and privacy.

Where do you glean your glazing inspiration?

The Shard and The Gherkin are both amazing and I’ve seen a wonderful building in Nimes, France, where glass has been used to enhance and showcase a Roman Temple opposite. The way the glass has been positioned means it presents a mirror image of the limestone temple.