When John Ruskin disparaged the Crystal Palace as 'a great cucumber frame', he hit upon a truism. Representing the zenith of Victorian glasshouses, the Crystal Palace epitomized a building type that had been developed by horticulturists and garden specialists on a sophisticated level and a spectacular scale. John Hix's ground-breaking book on the subject, first published in 1974, has been extensively revised and rewritten for this new edition.
The Glasshouse traces the evolution of the building type back to antiquity and goes on to describe developments in the sixteenth century when houses and orangeries were first constructed in glass. The history continues into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when increasingly complex structures were built incorporating iron and industrial construction techniques. The contribution of innovators such as Joseph Paxton and J C Loudon is charted and their influence on the pioneers of twentieth-century design such as Paul Scheerbart and Bruno Taut is examined.