Wicked WalkwaysPublished on 30th October 2014
Something wicked this way comes…
There was a time, really not that long ago, when glazed walkways were considered the preserve of public buildings; hospitals, mainly, with the occasional garden centre, shopping precinct and hotel joining in for good measure. A glazed walkway in a domestic setting? Good heavens, no! Why on earth would that be necessary? We’ll tell you why – because architects and home owners began, quite literally, to think outside the residential box.
Rather like atria, glazed walkways can take a number of forms and serve a number of functions. You have the little linkages which join divided buildings; the slim sideways, which can serve as an independent room, rather like a narrow conservatory, but providing access to the rooms right along one side of a dwelling; and then there are the great glassy hugs, which encircle a detached property, allowing access to all areas without having to intrude on any internal spaces unnecessarily.
At Apropos, being experts in bespoke glass architecture, we frequently work on all of these, and more besides. They can make a stunning addition to almost any home, but it is the linkways that we think are the most telling example of the changing face of British residential architecture.
Glazed linkways present an ingenious solution to many architectural problems, from barn conversions and the extension of period properties, to the growing interest in compartmentalised living.
Imagine you own a plot of land. You have limited planning permission, but the area is uneven, a stunning ancient oak grows from the centre, and the earth in places is almost completely rock-bound, making the laying of foundations incredibly expensive. You want to live here, but what are the solutions? One potential route is what American architect John Hill terms ‘breaking up the house.’ Rather than building your traditional large, two-storey rectangle, you create two, or even three separate buildings – the family area with kitchen, sitting room and dining room, the bedroom wing, and may be a home office suite. These buildings may be on different levels, with one ground floor being parallel to another’s first floor, but with glazed linkways – some floating, others grounded – you can transform these disparate buildings into an interconnected whole. The benefits are plentiful; you get to keep the beautiful oak tree; you save money on ground works; the bedrooms are peaceful; cooking smells are kept away from sleeping areas; your home is stunning.
The same benefits apply when you’re wanting to convert old, listed out-buildings and make them suitable for modern family life; glazed walkways allow you to renovate each structure within English Heritage rules, preserving a perfect period property, while joining the separate spaces to create a functional family home.
Aesthetically, glass has the least environmental impact, allowing the gaze to flow through it and beyond, while physically it shelters, providing the best possible solution to a potentially thorny problem.
At Apropos we obviously have a vested interest in promoting any glazed architecture; it is, after all, what we do. But while conservatories and orangeries are an accepted part of the architectural landscape, glazed walkways are still finding their niche, and to use the 1980s vernacular, we think they’re simply wicked.