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By Stefan Behling. Munich: Prestel. 2000. DM98

Just when we though that there were enough books on glass and architecture to keep us going for a while, Sophia and Stefan Behling have produced an irresistible offering.

An invitation to me by Stefan Behling to speak at the Dusseldorf Glastec Fair in 1996 made clear the potential importance of this biennial event to those interested in glass technology and building, but it was also clear that the exhibition set up by him made Glastec much more than the average trade fair. From the film of Bruno Taut's glass pavilion to the wonderful models and installations in the main gallery, Glastec 96 was a scintillating and memorable affair. Having read this book, which is the 'catalogue' of Glastec 98, l am very sorry to have missed the 1998 event.

I have put 'catalogue' in inverted commas, because although the Behlings claim it to be nothing more, its quality, in terms of image and the pedigree of its contributors make it more like an exhibition in its own right. It is both a celebration and a thorough (if all too brief) review of the virtuosity currently being exhibited by architects, sculptors, engineers, fabricators and the whole glass industry, and the promise of things to come.

Dusseldorf Glastec has positioned itself as a place where the glass industry, and designers who wish to exploit its products, work hard to show what they can do. Stefan Behling's own involvement in this process is a testament to what a dedicated proselytizer can do. The result in 'Glass' is something between a visual, end of century Scheerbart, full of hints and agendas, many only just beyond aphorism, and a brilliant slide show. The Behlings, with their combined talents in imagery and technical overview, have collected and edited the work of 22 contributing authors, and hundreds of photographs, many beautifully and specially taken by Jens Willebrand and Nigel Young.

Four major sections (Craft Industry and Facades, the Structural Use of Glass, Structural Experiments with Glass, and Materials and Systems) are well covered with organized, short, sub sections, bringing together both the content of Glastec, and the research being carried out at the University of Stuttgart. Of course, with only 150 pages, several hundred photographs and drawings, and two languages (German and English), the subjects are covered with tantalizing brevity. Also, the photographic referencing occasionally presents us with a picture which is hard to identify (what is the image second in from the left at the bottom of pl7?). Nevertheless this is a book which is both beautiful and inspiring, from its exposition of a huge range of applications from sculpture through energy, to materials science, and it is a valuable addition to the bibliography.
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Next Article:Delight.

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