Project description

Emalite glass is a synthetic opaque and multicoloured glass that appeared in the 1950s. Inserted in aluminium frames, it is used to cover the facades of buildings with modular panels of any requested colour. Its simplicity of use as well as its modularity account for its popularity in the 60s and 70s in Western Europe and in the countries of the socialist bloc. However, emalite glass does not age well, and is often replaced by other covering material, not as colourful.

Kolorobloki comprises a series of photographs of emalite glass covered buildings. These photographs are composed in a modular way, i.e. using the modularity of the emalite glass panels as they are used as a construction material. Thus, although all the buildings are, in real life, different, their photographs have been manipulated so that their facades have all the same proportions and the same number of floors. Some buildings have been shortened, while others have been enlarged, by adding the required number of modular panels. The only unaltered motif in these photographs is the colour of the façade. From a certain perspective, emalite glass panels are one of the last heirs of the modernist tradition in architecture, where simplicity and functionality are cardinal values. Modularity, from this point of view, is one architectural feature best suited to building something functional and cheap, but also maybe elegant. Nevertheless, as far as emalite glass is concerned, given the poor quality of the materials used, one often faces a kind of degenerate modernism.

However, Kolorobloki is not a criticism of modernism in architecture, on the contrary. It is a project that uses the grammar of modernism to show its limitations, but with a great dose of sympathy for that architecture as well as for the buildings photographed

Current photo

Photo #1 by Nicolas Grospierre