Glass brick

Glass brick

Glass brick, also known as glass block, is an architectural element used in areas where privacy or visual obscuration is desired while admitting light, such as underground parking garages, washrooms, and municipal swimming baths. Glass block was originally developed in the early 1900s to provide natural light in industrial factories.

Security and safety uses

Glass brick can admit light without compromising security, since a typical size of glass brick is 8 by 8 inches, fitting within the lattice of standard 8 by 16 inch cinderblock walls.

Electrical circuits such as lights can be isolated by placing them in a very small room or passageway outside the area being illuminated, such that no electrical leakage is possible. This also helps prevent vandalism and theft of bulbs, or removal of bulbs (e.g. to perpetrate crime.)

Some washrooms such as those in Dundas Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, have glassbrick windows that run all the way around the washroom, to create an illusion of natural light from all directions. This requires small passageways that run all the way around the outside of the room, for servicing the light sources.


Glass brick is often used to create visual privacy barriers, such as shown in the illustration above, where it has been used to create gender privacy through a doorless labyrinth that forms a washroom/changeroom entrance that allows light to pass, unrestricted, but distorts visual coherent light to such a degree as to provide reasonable privacy.


Glass brick is as easily decontaminated as ceramic tile, so it is suitable for wet areas such as changerooms, washrooms, and baths.

Glass brick in architecture

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