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Budget, atmosphere and safety. These were the requirements for the works of art in glass that were recently placed at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Architect and artist Gerard Frishert (GÉÈF) cooperated closely with others such as GlasBewerkingsbedrijf Brabant (GBB) in a highly successful effort to grace and enrich the somewhat austere construction from the 1960s with glass masterpieces.

Earlier this year, the Erasmus University Rotterdam had expressed its wish to improve the atmospheric appearance of its building without compromising its original character. Gerard Frishert restored the structure to its basic design and subsequently conceived and designed various additions. Notably, two glass work masterpieces were included in his design. He then assigned GBB to the task of manufacturing large quantities of glass within a short period of time, while ensuring that all preconditions were met.

The works of art
Gerard Frishert designed two masterpieces in glass. “One of the pieces is the Brooch, which consists of 85 melted glass elements forming a sixty metre-long brooch. The entire structure has been placed in an elongated open space, due to which it
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is always visible from the university’s public area.” In order to ensure the safety of this magnificent six-ton construction, GBB fixated the melted and coloured glass on safety glass by means of transparent epoxy glue. Ad van de Hoven, works manager at GBB, on the second masterpiece: “The client wanted to have a wall constructed between the public area and three sun lounges, for which the architect designed three glass partitions. The colouring on these partitions we achieved by applying a technique called enamel airbrushing. For safety reasons, the frames were finished with a special transparent safety film, which holds the glass together if it breaks.

Extra dimension
Frank Coolen, director of GBB, on the qualities of glass: “We see that artists seek to add new dimensions to their work. Glass is the perfect material to do that, as it is transparent and produces astonishing creations in light. Gerard Frishert was first introduced to this possibility in 2010: “At the time, I was working on a leaded window project together with GBB. This time I wanted to do more with glass, the result of which are these works of art. The Brooch absorbs light and radiates an entire spectrum of beautiful colours in return. The effect in an open space is amazing. The glass partitions create a special incidence of light, and at night the artificial lighting gives the exterior of the building an almost magical glow.

Budget-based solution
Ad van de Hoven: “Applications such as these usually involve a considerable amount of money. Together with Frishert, I looked for alternative ways in which to meet all of the requirements within the given budget. That is why we combined enamel airbrushing techniques with the application of a safety film rather than opting for the more costly method of glass applique, which involves coloured glass being glued to a base sheet of glass. In addition, the melted glass has been fused with shatter-proof glass for safety.”
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