MATERIAL PAIRING: Steel and Glass | Glass and Paint

Mar 12, 2021

Architect's associate with certain materials relying on the raw material's capacity to deliver a specific solution. Materiality is the art of architecture.  Building materials define the architectural style, resonate with the context and makes it possible to construct an impressive and sculptural structure.

Material Selection in Architectural Design ( show to use of certain materials and create dramatic forms. Material exploration has lead architects to create stunning structures. The most intuitive replacement of timber framework with Steel structure paved the way for skyscrapers.  This final leg of the three-part material pairing series includes the most influential and flawless building material that dictates most of the city skyline.


Steel and glass can create an illusion of solid and void. It can force a hierarchy to focus on the form and expanse of the context. The glass and steel frame structure know how to stand in contrast to the site context. And yet create a transparent design language from the interior to be inclusive of the built environment. And naturally, this becomes the designers favourite pairing.

From the infamous Glasshouse by Philip Johnson to the Louvre Museum by I.M Pei, the material selection based on the context maximizes the view towards the surrounding for lush green forest setting or set amid renaissance architecture. Glass and steel structure create more transparency, but the most fundamental and interesting principle is how light interacts with the spaces in the building.

GLASS HOUSE, By Philip Johnson

How to create a perfect pairing?

Steel and glass the primary material forces combined with neutral color palettes and natural texture accentuate form and space above all else. Subtle variations in texture and luster to the floor surfaces suggest deeper recognition. Sculpted doorway and interior surfaces reflecting light results in large luminous room.

This material union allows for any simple element to take centre stage, creating hierarchy of focus within the space is both delicate and exciting. Each element within the space, every furniture choices effectively diffuse or transcends the fundamental concept of the structure.  Be wise, be thoughtful in choosing the materials that heights luminosity of the space or diffuse the elemental nature of the structure.

800 Boylston St, Photo by Michael Eggerl on Unsplash

Why does it work?

Steel and glass play well together and create an identity and statement that seamlessly integrate with the context. The unique association of steel and glass as building materials display powerful style and yet, none demand more attention than the other. This character allows for any element to take significant status along with steel and glass.


Glass and paint are a combination of a highly saturated and effective design technique that introduces a single sheet of floor to ceiling high glass to appear effortlessly large in space. This material combination is an understated union that effectively emphasizes a larger experiential room visually.

This treatment can dominate elements enclosed within the space. Glass and paint combine to create a visual impact that competes for significance. Every decor, furniture and the painted wall surfaces reflect glazing insertion. This material union allows the glass surface to highlight the encircling object. Therefore, deeply painted colors work well with glass. Painted surfaces add classically and modern style depending on the choice of the color palette.

Glass façade with Neutral color décor, San Pellegrino Terme, Photo by Martino Pietropoli 

How to create a perfect pairing?

Creating a perfect pairing with glass and paint is simple. A careful construction intersecting wall and glass resulting in a utilitarian look reveals extension of space and illusion of open design. A timeless concept used along a small corridor or hallway can create a sense of larger transition space.

This material effect can be achieved over a stairwell or narrow stairway with the illusion of hovering over space. The ploy cannot be forcefully inserted in small spaces if there are busy combinations of materials.

Photo by Victor Lu on Unsplash

Why does it work?

Classic and neutral colors combined with glass create a humble and appealing experience. White is a timeless example that highlights form and space. Neutral tones and natural wood texture when sparingly used along with glass elevate and articulate the space.

Read more on how to create the perfect material paring and why do some material just belong with each other. More on Steel and Wood | Steel and Brick
MATERIAL PAIRING: Steel and Wood | Steel and Brick
Much like concrete, Steel frame structure play well with Wood and Brick. These building materials may not be the most popular pairing but bridges fundamental concepts and design philosophy.


Anusha Ashok

I believe only art can change the world! Although, I constantly critique the design approach & in dispute with my belief. But usually found having tea & listening to Coldplay.