Translucency in Contemporary Architecture: An Alternative to Transparency

By Scott Murray.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Although the dominance of transparency as an architectural ideal is well established in the history of modernism, there are a number of exceptional and often overlooked buildings from this period in which architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Pierre Chareau, Gordon Bunshaft, Rafael Moneo, and Peter Zumthor, eschewed transparency in favor of the more complicated, alternative condition of translucency, in which light is captured and dispersed without direct visual transparency. It is this influential, though less examined, thread of modernism that this article explores. A close study of the work of such architects will expand our understanding of what constitutes modernity beyond commonly accepted notions.

Keywords: Architecture, Modernism, Glass, Transparency, Translucency

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.115-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.168MB).

Scott Murray

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Scott Murray is a licensed architect and Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois, where he teaches design studios and building-envelope seminars and serves as a thesis advisor. Murray is the author of the book “Contemporary Curtain Wall Architecture,” published in 2009 by Princeton Architectural Press. His current research and design work focus on innovative building-envelope design in contemporary architecture, with an emphasis on curtain walls and the uses of glass as a material in modern architecture. Murray received his architectural training at Harvard University and the University of Illinois.