The Glass Chain
Space Popular's installation at Sto Werkstatt explores an alternative future for glass in architecture inspired by the legacy of the infamous Glass Chain Letters (1919–1920).

 Location London, United Kingdom
 Type Installation
 Year June 16, 2017 - December 14, 2017
 SPOPeople Lara Lesmes, Fredrik Hellberg
 Client Sto Werkstatt 
 Photography  Ben Blossom

Sto Werkstatt’s brief for this new commission asked Space Popular to work with StoVentec Glass to redefine the limitations of the material and imagine its bright, colourful, and energising possibilities—encouraging us to imagine a new purpose for glass in building design.

The title ‘The Glass Chain’ is a reference to the infamous exchange of letters by a group of German architects from 1919-1920 initiated by Bruno Taut, fantasising about the myriad of possibilities of this incredible material: glass. Sadly, the letters explore a vision of glass that was never realised. These early days of modernism took a different turn: glass became a peripheral material of windows and walls with the ability to mediate spatial qualities while remaining invisible; whilst Taut instead believed that all architecture and even furniture could be made of glass and the material itself could have qualities to be mediated.

Following the legacy of the Bauhaus movement, today the use of glass in architecture has become a largely functional element of a building. Almost one hundred years later, Space Popular—inspired by the visions from that time— is taking up the mantle to wrest glass from its modernist confines and set it free to enjoy bold colour, complex forms and new meanings.

The design explores different ranges of scale, playing with our visual perception of glass doorways as grand arches and small steps as giant pediments. Space Popular have worked closely with Sto technical experts to realise a kaleidoscopic glass construction that uses glass to enhance, alter and question human perception of space across physical and virtual realities.
Front view showing all 21 panels in full virtual three dimensions 

Backside of the Glass Chain with alpine motives in the background  

Front side of The Glass Chain with the portal visible. 

Documentary production: 2017

Front side of The Glass Chain with seat/terrace 
Glass Chain ornaments over alpine motifs as printed on curtains in the exhibition. 

Virtual                                             Physical

Stills from virtual model

Architecture across Realities: 
Virtual reality as a tool for architecture

September 18, 2017 2:30 PM - 8:30 PMSto Werkstatt

In ‘The Glass Chain’ Space Popular explore the possibilities of glass in architecture and among the richly interwoven narratives that have informed the installation, lies a proposition: Like the liquid crystals found in our glass mobile phone screens or the displays in Virtual Reality headsets, could the thin digitally printed layer of ceramic ink on the back of a glass facade panel be considered virtual content?
Designed and created by Space Popular, the VR experience will expand your perception across multiple realities. Across its duration you will experience playful shifts in scale and be introduced to new environments and even characters in 'The Glass Chain', which blend the physical with the virtual.

Taking 'the Glass Chain' as a departure point, the panel discussion chaired by James Taylor-Foster (Editor-at-Large at ArchDaily), will speculate on the potentials of designing and experiencing architecture across real and virtual domains, and the effects this could have on design methodologies and practice in future.
Still in its infancy, an exciting aspect of VR technologies is its interdisciplinary application with practitioners exploring its potentials across medicine, gaming, architecture and art, to name a few. In our approach to this panel we have embraced this cross-disciplinary attitude, inviting speakers from a spectrum of backgrounds to reconsider what the design criteria for a virtual architecture may be.

Panelists include:

Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg (Co-Directors of Space Popular, Architecture and Research Practice and unit master of research unit ‘Tools for Architecture’ at the Architectural Association)

Ben Vickers (Chief Technology Officer at the Serpentine Galleries and an initiator of the open-source monastic order unMonastery.)

Katharine Vega (artist and researcher at

Key Questions:
  • What can virtual realities bring to the design and development of our built environment?
  • How does the visual experience of virtual worlds trigger other senses?
  • Can we expect architecture to exist purely within the virtual realm in the near future?
  • How are the skills of an architect relevant to the design of architecture in virtual reality?
  • How does a technology such as VR or AR make the shift from “fad” to fact?
  • What are the real world experiential implications of VR today and in the future?
Presentations and panel discussion from the event Architecture across Realities: Virtual reality as a tool for architecture at Sto Werkstatt on the 18th of September 2017.

James Taylor-Foster
Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg
Ben Vickers
Katharine Vega

Invitation card 01

Invitation card 01

Seat/terrace design printed on fabric

Documentary production: 2017