While travelling this summer I was reminded of the beautifully subtle but relatively rare use of marble for windows. Examples of marble panes for windows can be found in historic ecclesiastical architecture (churches, monasteries, etc), particularly in Mediterranean countries. Although I had heard about this use whilst at university and proposed it in one of my student projects for a museum, I had never seen any real life examples before this summer.
Jaca, in the Spanish Pyrenees and the heart of the Aragonese kingdom, has several examples of buildings with marble windows. Two of these examples really stood out to me, one modern and one historic. I then did some research into marble windows and found a few more examples to share. As the images in this blog piece show, marble windows, create a gentle light source and striking patterned visual effect which can be breathtakingly beautiful.
The external aspect during the daytime of an historic marble window is like looking at an area of marble wall. They look the same as a much thicker piece of marble until you can see light falling through it. At night the effect seen internally during the daytime in sunlight is reversed as electric lighting will create a glow seen outside.
Away from the med in northern europe the light levels are not as strong, so using thin-cut marble is most effective orientated so that sunlight can fall on it. In spaces where a lot of light is not needed, such as those for prayer or meditation, or is undesirable such as for storing and displaying light sensitive objects such as books and art works, marble can be used to both control the daylight while creating a striking decorative interior.
There are some particularly striking mid-century examples of marble windows and two that I'd love to visit are the Yale University's rare book library and the Pius Church in Meggan, Switzerland.
The marble used is white, grey-veined, Vermont marble cut to a thickness of approximately 3cm.
The marble used is Penthelian Dionysos marble cut to 2.8cm thick and in panels of 1.5x1.02m. To create an effect of columns of marble, the panels were carefully selected and cut from the same block for consistent veining. This marble appears as white with grey veins until seen with light shining through, when more depth and colour is revealed.
Did you see any beautiful architecture during your summer trips? Have you used marble or seen it used in any interesting ways? Would you like to use marble as a light source in your project? Let us know in the comments below.