Blog by Beebe Cline

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7 Stunning Glass Walkways in Modern Homes

One of my predictions for 2013 was "breaking up the house," by which smaller detached volumes are able to respond to unique site conditions, such as existing trees, slopes and water's edges. Smaller buildings also mean that certain functions can stand alone for reasons relating to needs (an apartment for a grandparent, for example) and energy (heating and cooling systems can be lowered in a living area at night, while during the day the bedrooms can do the same).

That idea received much resistance from readers, particularly the notion of trekking outside to go from the living room to the bedroom. (I like the idea of being connected to the outdoors in this way, but I understand that it's not appropriate for all people in all climates.) One means of building smaller footprints but having a conditioned path from one to the other is via an enclosed walkway.

This ideabook looks at a variety of such walkways, many of them with glass walls, which reinforce the distinction of the buildings they connect while maintaining views through the site.
The Napa Vineyard House is a vacation house for a group of friends. With this situation it was necessary to create private suites in addition to the communal spaces. A glass-enclosed walkway connects these two parts of the project.
Nic Ehr, principal at Remick Associates Architecture, says, "We wanted to have a courtyard, but the planning commission wanted everything under one roof. The glass passageway allows us to be enclosed yet open to the view."
This openness is further conveyed in the way the walkway follows the topography of the site. The steps actually align with the terraced landscape, a considerate means of tying the two together.
Alterstudio's design for a house near Austin, Texas, has a courtyard created from the houses' being split into two parallel bars. From the entry and garage, the living area is the volume to the right of the glass walkway, and the bedrooms are beyond the volume on the left. The walkway then acts as the entry, while also defining one side of the courtyard.
Reflecting pools on both sides of the walkway help to create a sense of calm for someone traversing from one side of the house to the other. They also reflect sunlight into the space, creating a dappled effect.
In certain conditions glass walkways can disappear, as in this courtyard house in Berkeley, California, designed by WA Design. Full-height panes with silicone joints are one means of ensuring continuity of views in exterior spaces.

The decision to do something like this should be tempered by considerations for wildlife, particularly birds. (I'm speaking generally, not about this house, for which it may not be a problem.) To discourage birds from hitting glass, certain films — or something as simple as cutouts of birds — can be applied to the glass.
The glass walls are about as simple as can be, set into the floor and ceiling and framed with silicone. An external column gives some additional support.
Views through a walkway can be amplified through the use of sliding doors, as in this mountain residence. The view from the walkway is phenomenal, so it's easy to see why patios are located on either side of the walkway.
When closed the walkway connects two sides of the house, but it does so in dramatic fashion. The cove lighting and subtle barrel-vaulted wood ceiling are nice touches.
Here is a walkway that does triple duty: It acts as a front door and a walkway connecting two sides of the house, and ...
... it provides access to a patio overlooking a pool on the other side of the house.
A walkway need not be only one story. This glass-enclosed walkway is two stories.
As in the previous home, doors on both sides of the glass walls provide access to the outdoors. Overhead the walkway is a bridge, set back from the glass walls.

Note the roller shades on the right side, what I'm guessing is the southern exposure. A glass walkway, particularly a two-story one, can act like a greenhouse, so cutting down on direct sunlight is a good idea.
The last example is a glass-enclosed bridge that happens to also feature a glass floor. The gap between the two buildings is small, which reduces the size of the structure required to bridge one side and the other.
The bridge is actually two stories, meaning there is a glass roof and two glass floors. In the short walk from one building to the other, the sky, trees, rain and ground are grasped through the glass panes.