In the mid-1920s a physiologist, a glass chemist, and a zoo embarked on a project which promised to turn buildings into medical instruments. The advanced chemistry of "Vita" Glass mobilised theories of light and medicine, health practices and glassmaking technology to compress an entire epoch’s hopes for a healthy life into a glass sheet – yet it did so invisibly.

To communicate its advantage, Pilkington Bros. spared no expense as they launched the most costly and sophisticated marketing campaign in their history. Engineering need for "Vita" Glass employed leading-edge market research, evocative photography and vanguard techniques of advertising psychology, accompanied by the claim: "Let in the Health Rays of Daylight Permanently through "Vita" Glass Windows."

This is the story of how, despite the best efforts of two glass companies, the leading marketing firm of the day, and the opinions of leading medical minds, "Vita" Glass failed. However, it epitomised an age of lightness and airiness, sleeping porches, flat roofs and ribbon windows. Moreover, through its remarkable print advertising, it strove to shape the ideal relationship between our buildings and our bodies.

chapter 1|24 pages

The Healthful Ambience of Vitaglass

Light, Glass and the Curative Environment 1

part |138 pages


chapter 6|29 pages

Needy Bodies

Fleetwood Pritchard and the “Vita” Glass Marketing Board

chapter 7|24 pages

Magical Bodies

The Promise of Weather Control, Labour-savings, Transparency

chapter 8|35 pages

Normal Bodies

Scientific Management, Ideal Childhood and Biological Processes

chapter 9|37 pages

Short-Lived Bodies

The Lifespan of the Therapeutic Environments of the 1920s and 1930s

chapter 10|11 pages

Shaping Bodies

Marketing Material Performance