There is perhaps no better emblem of modernist design than glass houses. Alongside steel, wrought iron, and concrete, the material came to define an architectural movement and quickly captured architects’ imagination. Glass structures—with their lightness, transparency, translucency, and reflectivity—intimately reveal their interiors and provide a commune with nature that was previously unachievable.
Of the many famous designs, Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, and Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, sit in the mind’s eye as primordial examples of the medium, celebrated for their ingenuity and capture of the zeitgeist. The rise of experimentation and expansion in postwar America gave way to the popularity of glass as a primary building material in homes, but the style has since ricocheted around the globe, with architects in South Africa, Vietnam, Brazil, and the Netherlands among those in other far-flung destinations taking inspiration from glass architecture. A new book from Phaidon features 50 such homes and celebrates stunning feats of architectural wonder that engage glass in thoughtful and compelling ways. Ahead, discover 15 beautiful glass houses around the world that make a compelling case for ditching brick, stone, timber, and concrete altogether.