Neri Oxman: Material Ecology

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Glass I and Glass II

Neri Oxman. Glass I and Glass II. 2017–18 103

3D printed glass, dims vary. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Modern Women’s Fund. 2023 Neri Oxman

Neri Oxman: Bringing science and engineering and architecture together is something we care deeply, deeply about. With our new glass printer—a 3D printer with which to 3D-print optically transparent glass—we have had to formulate mathematical equations to describe the fluidics of glass in 1900 Fahrenheit.

These formulas, these mathematical equations were not available to us. We had to invent them or create them starting with the technology. So this is an example of architects creating science as opposed to architects borrowing from science.

With blowing, forming or pressing glass—the traditional ways of forming glass into three-dimensional objects—the interior surface geometry is the same as the exterior. With glass printing, because you have control over the nozzle—almost like a calligraphy pen—you can differentiate between the interior features of the product and the exterior features of the product. That means that effectively you are creating an optical lens.

And if you're able to create an optical lens, you can guide or inform the way by which light and heat move through the structure. And so printing allows us to think about facades and building scale as optical lenses. If successful, it has great implications for energy harvesting through glass.