In the medieval German city of Iphofen, one of the country’s oldest wine regions situated next to the river Main, artist Reiner John worked with Jäcklein Architects to connect an historic 19th century school house with a new extension through a 1,000-square-foot glass façade. The new building houses the town hall, a visitor welcome center, a library and shops.
The façade depicting enlarged grape leaves in reflective pixels, and linking the modern building to the tradition of this region, animates the design while also incorporating the surrounding historical structures through reflections. “The mirrored pixels generate an image of the individual directly on the façade,” says Michael Härteis, Design Manager at Managing Creativity, a technical advisor on the project. “The outsider becomes part of the building. The individual becomes an element of the town hall.” The striking glass concept is also featured in three entryways, depicting the vineyard imagery while also incorporating more color.
Härteis, who has worked with the artist on several projects, was tasked with helping John establish a fabrication concept. “The mirroring pixels in combination with the dot matrix in the background where quite challenging, as each glass panel is unique,” he says. In the end, Mayer-of-Munich, one of the leading art glass studios worldwide fabricated the art glass.
Evolving technology has allowed artists like John and Häerteis to realize their modern vision. “The windows of gothic cathedrals were made only by a couple of tools that fit into a small bag, and they still do if one makes stained glass windows in a traditional manner,” says Härteis, who began his career learning traditional crafts. Today, he is more interested in facilitating contemporary designs. “Glass is more than a transparent wall; it is crucial to design.”