What is "Glass-House" Architecture?

“Glass-House” Architecture refers to facilities, restaurants, buildings, and any other indoor space designed with glass (typically), and focused on natural lighting and plant life, in order to create a beautiful space for people to gather. While glass is typically the glazing material used, it is not required, and not always the most appropriate glazing material.

As opposed to a “greenhouse”, a “glass house” is mainly intended to be a space for people, the greenery being secondary. A greenhouse, on the other hand, is usually the other way around.

Ceres has partnered with European Manufacturer Rabensteiner to provide such glasshouse architecture as: atriums, conservatories, solariums, sunrooms, and beautiful community spaces that are all energy-efficient and can be used for such applications as restaurants and community centers.

*At this time we are not designing or providing glass-houses for smaller residential projects.

glass house architecture- inside restaurant

Why Ceres?

We are leaders in energy efficient, passive solar design.  We are committed to helping our clients every step of the building process to ensure both a beautiful design and maximum energy efficiency.

We offer: Ceres provides North American engineering, stamping, and climate control (including design integration). We work alongside an architect for a smooth permitting process and for full interior design. 

glass house architecture- architecture

"Glass" or "Green" house?

We understand that there is a spectrum of needs and functions for each individual and business’s use of a greenhouse or glass-house. A client might wish for a glasshouse, and then decide the primary function is for plants; and vice versa for a greenhouse. We will work with you to decide the best option and potential customizations to work with your needs, now and in the future.

Examples of Glass Architecture

Restaurant Glass Architecture

This German ‘Glashaus’ is a unique conception; a beautiful glass constructed space, providing a restaurant filled with a wide variety of living plants.

Project Details:
Size: Approx. 9,687 ft² (900 m²) total floor space
Restaurant space: Approx. 190 seats (inside), plus extensive plant life
Energy Efficiency: PV modules integrated into the roof, plus internal passive solar heat gain provides additional energy savings.


glass house architecture- outside restaurant
glass house architecture wall plants Lars Dude
glashaus restaurant

Photocredits: ©Lars Düde

Glass House Restaurant and Gathering Space

This glass house project was designed to be both a restaurant and a gathering space. During the day it is a beautiful place to commune and relax among more than 190 varieties of plants. At night the unique lighting design allows for beautiful colors to shine.

Project Details:
Size: Total area 6,135 ft² (570 m²)
Energy Efficiency: includes shading and climate control technology
Fire protection rated

Glass House Cafe

This cafe was designed to achieve maximum sunlight, bringing cafe goers together in the main atrium space, which is filled with natural light and plants. The other departments built into this facility include: nursery, gardening, and flower market, which all flow into the central cafe area.

Project Details:
Size: Total area 17,222 ft² (1,600 m²)
Features: pyramid shaped roof skylight, constructed with laminated wooden beams.

glass cafe- rabensteiner
glass house architecture- roof
glass house architecture

Interested in a Greenhouse? Ceres Greenhouse Options:

Greenhouse by Application

Greenhouse by Type

Glass-House Architecture Technology

Glass Architecture FAQs

Ceres will provide the following:

  • building shells (glass or not)
  • foundation
  • appropriate climate control and lighting
  • foundations
  • engineering 

Ceres will aid in the architectural design, but will need to also work with an external architect to address the functions of the building that are dedicated to people.

Glass-Houses, especially larger structures of 5000 sqft (500m2) and more are often custom structures. Our partner, Rabensteiner, specializes in the design and manufacturing of materials for custom Glass House structures. Ceres will help North American and international customers and customers’ architects with the design process, permitting, foundation and civil engineering, climate control and lighting, water treatment and the project management all the way to completion.

Clients that are looking to add more value per area of glass house, such as:

  • Restaurants
  • Breweries
  • Pubs
  • Events (such as weddings, and culinary events)
  • Corporate meetings (especially companies that want to show their dedication to the environment)
  • Corporate campuses
  • Hospitals and other places of healing
  • Retreat centers (such as meditation centers)
  • Universities and schools (that want to show a connection to the world outside of their walls)

The list is long and can include places where animals and people can spend time together.

Depending on the use of the Glass House, architects are essential for the success of the project. In particular applications, specialized architects might be needed to bring the project to fruition (i.e supermarkets, zoos, etc.). It is also good to have a local architect firm involved in a permitting process. If needed, Ceres is working with highly qualified architects if the client requires help finding an appropriate partner. 

Ceres is available to answer any questions to get your project started. We are happy to assist in finding a great architect, and happy to work with any architect worldwide. We also have many foreign speakers, so assisting in other languages may be possible. 

The cost of the Glass House depends on the size of the building, its usage, and the climate control equipment and controls needed. In general, Ceres estimates that the Glass House will be in a similar price range to most nice looking commercial buildings.

Ceres can design and deliver any size Glass House structure. In cooperation with our partner Rabensteiner, we are looking at the sum of the erected area of about 5000 sqft (450m2).

Smaller Glass Houses shall be designed by Ceres only.

One option is to install a solar panel system to run the electrical components.

You can also build a completely passive solar greenhouse – one that does not use any electrical components. For this we recommend using passive solar vent openers to provide automated ventilation. There are several pros and cons to building a passive solar greenhouse vs. an active one. Much more information on solar panel systems and passive solar greenhouse is in our book, The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse as well as “Integrating Solar Panels into the Greenhouse.”

Ceres Glass Houses are designed to withstand snow, wind, hail and seismic requirements provided by the local building code.

Glass House clients and their architects should speak with their building department about zoning requirements. These buildings are often classified as mixed-use buildings instead of purely commercial agriculture or purely commercial.

Sometimes special energy savings calculations/documentation is needed because Glass Houses do not fit the general guidelines for required building insulation. A Glass House can be very energy-efficient using multi-layer glass, solar panels between the glass, phase change materials, a GAHT® system, movable insulation etc., even if the glass panels themselves are not rated as high as insulated walls. 


The project timeline is often most dependent on the funding, design and permitting process. The actual building time is relatively short. Ceres and its partners will provide project oversight to assure that the building is built correctly and efficiently. Erection times of the steel and glass can be relatively short and completed in approximately 2 months. 

A Glass House can be very energy efficient, even net zero and electric only, using multi-layer glass, solar panels between the glass (PV), solar thermal panels and radiant floor heating, phase change materials, a GAHT® system and movable insulation etc.

As seen in many of the examples on the web page above, Ceres expects that most projects will have a combination of traditional buildings such as: kitchens, offices, storage spaces, coolers, etc.

Rooftop Glass Houses are one of the most exciting applications. Rooftops are very economical spaces where a Glass House can add a significant value to the underlying building. The increase of the value of the underlying building will reduce the value that the Glass House needs for it to be built. This is usually a win/win situation.

In urban spaces, a Glass House, similar to a wonderful supermarket or a commuter rail stop, will absolutely increase the value of all surrounding properties.  

The same is true for adult living facilities, community centers, recreation centers, town halls, libraries, etc.

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