Glass Butterfly

PrizeBronze in Architectural Design / Transportation
Firm LocationSan Francisco, United States
CompanyForm4 Architecture
Lead ArchitectJohn Marx, Design Principal, Form4 Architecture
Design TeamJohn Marx Design Principal Form4 Architecture

The Glass Butterfly is inspired by a formal negotiation between the delicacy of glass and its structural integrity. Sponsored by a glazing manufacturing company the competition’s programmatic purpose was to take a bus shelter, an atypical, ubiquitous object within the public realm, and create a design for a rural area of Denmark. The design wanted to be self-referential and authoritative in the landscape. Trees, weaving grass, and big canopies were key inspirational organic forms. The gentle nature of the Danish environment became the source for the proposed biomorphic volume. Like a graceful butterfly, this structure radiates its immaterial presence to its surroundings day and night. This scalable transparent container, almost a frozen membrane, is a place of protection, sheltering users from rain, wind, and sun. Despite its seemingly imminent flight from the ground, this artifact is securely anchored to the soil through unobtrusive steel connections. Maximum structural integrity is provided by the graceful, U-shaped glass bays. The bays are scalable to afford a variety of seating arrangements for those who are alone, couples, or groups of friends with deep protection from wind and rain. The elliptical photovoltaic panels laid on the roof and directly above the bays have the dual function of harnessing solar energy to power the structure and serving as sun shading devices to shield those sitting below. The structure metamorphoses from a simple portal between here and there, to an oasis. As an easily identifiable billboard and beacon, the glass medium provides a point of belonging. It transitions from a transparent cocoon serving the occupants need to see out and catch the approaching vehicle during the day, to a guidepost at night. It is for this reason that linear LED lighting follows the edges of the canopy, illuminating its architecture even in complete Nordic darkness.