Design: Rudolf Steiner
Hügelweg 59, Dornach, Switzerland
The Glass House – a Workshop Building
Plans for the construction of the Glass House were drawn in January 1914, construction began on April 1 of the same year, and the inauguration took place on June 17.
In the building, a specially developed technique was used to cut the colored glass windows for the First and the Second Goetheanum.
By means of the so-called glass etching, the pictorial motifs were created by grinding away the glass material to create an interplay of light and dark areas.
The motifs of the monochrome glass panes were etched with a carborundum grinder using the method known as slash etching.
The resulting difference in the thickness of the glass made the image content stand out particularly well in the incident sunlight.
In addition to the glass cutting shop the Glass House accommodated the construction office for the Goetheanum Hill.
The Glass House consists of two slate-roofed domed buildings connected by a rectangular central structure.
It is a wooden post and beam structure with a basement and a massive concrete base, founded on piles.
The exterior walls were originally clad in fir shingles, which were replaced with spruce shingles in 1965.
In order to be able to grind the colored windows for the large domed room of the First Goetheanum while standing, the size and shape of the tripartite windows in the domes of the Glass House corresponded exactly to those in the First Goetheanum.
Frames were set up there from the inside into which colored glass panes were fixed.
Using grinders, the glass artists then carved motifs according to Steiner’s designs and cut them into the glass.
While the interior of the middle building is wood clad, the interior of the domes is unclad with visible framework.
On the first floor of the middle building was a studio with a large north window.
The upper floor housed an apartment for Taddäus Richter, the glass cutting supervisor.
A roof terrace is located between the two domes.
The entrance portal is made of pear wood, the portal surround is made of oak wood. Steiner himself designed the angular box lock of the door.
Renovation and current use
After a renovation completed in 2007 by the Baukreis Glashaus, the building was placed under preservation order.
In the course of the renovation, research laboratories were set up in the basement, offices for scientific staff on the first floor, plus a workshop and a library in the east dome and a seminar room in the west dome.
For this purpose, the domes were fitted with large tripartite windows on the north side.
Thermal and sound insulation was installed in the building, the staircases and corridors were adapted to current safety regulations.
Nowadays, the Glass House houses the Natural Science Section and the Section for Agriculture of the Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft at the Goetheanum.