Architecture of light
Vozdvizhenka str., 5/25, 119019 Moskau Map
Tue–Sun 11 am–8 pm, Thu 1–9 pm

The exhibition is devoted to the history of the invention and application of the original building material - Falconnier glass bricks. The brick got its name after the inventor - the Swiss architect and engineer Gustave Falconnier (1845 - 1913).

Gustave Falconnier , based on many years of glassmaking experience, created a material that took its place in the world building practice for half a century. The development of molds and patterns for hollow glass bricks , which were made by hand blowing, began in the 1880s and was continued by Falconnier throughout his later life.

The manufacturing principle, as well as the technology of laying glass bricks, have been patented in Europe and the USA. The new building material perfectly muffled and diffused sunlight, was durable with low weight, and had both functional and aesthetic qualities. Falconier was used for glazing street and corridor windows, skylight domes, covering winter gardens, greenhouses and hotbeds, landscape gardening and trade exhibition pavilions and other structures.

In 1893, the invention was presented at the Chicago World's Fair, after which the technology spread throughout Europe and the Russian Empire. The material's popularity peaked in the 1900s and 1910s. In Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Saratov, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities, many residential and public buildings have been preserved, in the architecture of which glass bricks were used. For example, the Butyrka tram depot, the Savvinskoe courtyard, the estate of the Latyshevs - Bakhrushins - Bardygins (now the Embassy of India) in Moscow, the church at the Kutaisovsky orphanage in Nizhny Novgorod, the Exaltation of the Cross Church in Khvalynsk (Saratov Region), the Burylin mansion in Ivanovo, the house of Faberge on Bolshaya Morskaya in St. Petersburg and the Nikolaev Marine Hospital in Kronstadt.

By the end of the 1930s, the falconnier production lines were stopped, and the equipment was subsequently lost. Skillful, expensive and obsolete glass bricks were replaced by pressed square and rectangular glass blocks. Until today, they are widely used in the construction of external walls and the arrangement of interiors of various types of buildings.

In 2021, thanks to the cooperation of the Museum of Architecture and experimental production NWGlass.lab in St. Petersburg, the Falconnier glass brick manufacturing technology was restored . By initiating a large-scale exhibition project and ordering more than a thousand products of different models and colors for it, the Museum of Architecture stimulated the scientific development and production experiments of NWGlass.lab, whose specialists achieved the maximum correspondence of new products to historical samples. It was this successful experiment that made possible the subsequent restoration of two historic buildings - Shchelukhina's house in Nizhny Novgorod and Eroshenko's house in Baskovy Lane in St. Petersburg. In both cases, the falconier masonry in the window openings was completely recreated.

"Falconnier is a unique invention, a favorite material of the Art Nouveau era, a symbol of aesthetics at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum of Architecture dedicated its exhibition not only to the history of glass bricks, but also to the architectural heritage and its loss. We want to draw attention to the topic of preserving architectural monuments and their scientific restoration." Anna Kistanova, exhibition curator

At the exhibition "Falconnier. Architecture of Light” will feature more than 100 items : glass bricks from Europe and the Russian Empire, Soviet glass blocks - all from the collection of the Museum of Architecture and private collections, as well as archival documents and photographs. The key exhibits of the exhibition will be modern glass bricks of the Falconnier system, assembled into multi-colored masonry in the space of the Wing "Ruin". They will complement the architectural and artistic solution of the exposition, developed by the Planet9 bureau .

"We will also show various examples of building glass that appeared in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries: floor portholes in cast-iron gratings, Luxfer window prisms, Keppler pressed glass blocks, Marblit wall tiles, Monier glass with wire mesh, glass tiles and patterned glass. These building materials became signs of a new time - the rapid development of the glass industry and metallurgy, which met the needs of modern architecture." Nikita Andreev, exhibition curator

Visitors to the exhibition will be presented with the results of the latest research related to the invention of Gustave Falconnier, the secrets of the production of glass bricks will be revealed, raw materials, molds, and tools for blowing various Falconnier models will be shown.

"This project is important for the Museum not only as a story about one of the popular building technologies of the past, but also as an example of the return of forgotten technologies to the future. We are expanding the palette of modern architecture and design: one of the objectives of the project is to update falconnier and glass in architecture, resuming the versatility of methods for using this material." Elizaveta Likhacheva, Director of the State Museum of Architecture named after A.V. Shchusev

"Glass, like ceramics, appeared as a result of the creativity of nature itself, but it is a person who, working with these materials and applying various technologies for their processing, gives them elegance and completeness of forms, laying in the appearance of an object cultural codes characteristic of its era, and sometimes even anticipating future. Architecture unites the cultural heritage of generations and paves the way to a new time. Thanks to the exhibition of the Museum of Architecture, modern architects and designers can be inspired by the heritage of the past and rediscover glass falconniers, "stones of light", rethink this amazing invention and give it a new life. As manufacturers, innovators and great connoisseurs of art, design and architecture, we are pleased to be partners and participants in this project." Igor Levchenkov, General Director of bathroom products manufacturing companies AQUATON and Santek - official partners of the exhibition