The Glass Dune

Ministry of the Environment, Hamburg, Germany

In 1992 Brian Clarke collaborated with Future Systems, the architectural practice of Jan Kaplický and Amanda Levete, on a proposal for the State Ministry for Urban Development and the Environment Building/Umweltschutzbehörde in Hamburg. This project, which remains unrealised, was known as The Glass Dune.

Frontiers: Artists and Architects (1997) writes:

'Taking the so-called ‘boomerang’ plan of the building, Clarke constructed an internal ‘skin of art’ that spans the internal plane of glazing. He felt that the bank of escalators climbing through the offices were an important ‘animation’ when viewed from outside and that the view through the wall of glass was equally important for visitors to the building as they used the stairs. Accordingly, he left the central area entirely clear save for two great ribbons of orange and yellow that dart across the space forming a bridge between the halves and lower down skirting the entrance, teasing the public in. The atrial heart of the building would therefore become a dramatic south-facing space enlivened by the movement of people horizontally and vertically and by the passage of light through the complex and delicate skin of colour. All the floors open onto this atrium which also contains shops, restaurants and terrace. All the office floors would directly access this animated and light-filed space.'

The sample panel of stained glass fabricated for the project, a 1:1 scale section of the 'skin of art' conceived for the structure, was first exhibited in Licht und Architektur/Festival of Light 1992 in Ingolstadt. In 1995 it was presented at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery and it is now in the permanent collection of the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.