Unveiling the ultraviolet: “Vita” Glass, bodies and the marketing of material performance

John Stanislav Sadar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In the mid 1920s, British glass giants Pilkington Bros. and Chance Bros. undertook an unlikely, cooperative project which promised to turn buildings into medical instruments. Through advanced chemistry, their effort compressed hopes for a healthy life into a sheet of purposefully-designed “Vita” Glass. Yet, its visual transparency rendered its health-giving performance opaque. To succeed in creating a disease-free paradise, they launched a groundbreaking campaign to engineer need, which sought to communicate glass not as a thing, but a carrier of therapeutic effects, and shape ideals regarding the relationship between our buildings, bodies and environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-395
Number of pages21
JournalArchitecture and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • heliotherapy
  • ultraviolet radiation
  • glass architecture
  • modern architecture
  • advertising

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