Post 318 –  by Gautam Shah


Architectural history is full of different forms of windows. Of these Four forms have matured over the ages to reach level of classical antiquity. These are Palladian window (16th to 18th C), Rose window (17th to 19th C) and Colonial Georgian sash window (1720 to 1830). Colonial Double Windows (17th to 19th C).  All four windows have different size, shape, form, purpose, placement and related architectural styles.


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele


Palladian opening is a three-part window. The central circular arched gap is supported by columns, which are offset from the wall thus creating two smaller width gaps on sides. Smaller side openings are flat headed. The window form is also called Serliana or Serlian motif from its originator Sebastiano Serlio (1475–1554) an Italian Mannerist architect, theorist and painter, who published a treatise as Serlio’s L’Architettura (1537–75) to introduce the principles of ancient Roman architecture into France. The triple window form was refined and used by architect Andrea Palladio in the Venice region. So, it is also known as the Venetian window.

Palazzo Te Mantova

A Palladian window is a classical, well proportioned and symmetrical architectural entity that is used as a window as well as a motif. A Palladian motif is placed as a decoration, window, door-window combination and simply as gap in an exterior passage or as part of a colonnade, such as in Basilica Vicenza, Italy. Palladian motifs were placed on the ground floor as entrance to portico, but in later period began to be placed over the entrance doors, on upper floors as the focus element of the building’s facade. Palladio used the motif in many creative ways. For Palazzo della Ragione, he created depth by using double columns and wider barrel arch shell.

Philip Johnson Museum of Television and Radio

The Palladian form on an upper floor is characteristic of the Federal style, but has also been used on other buildings from Victorian to modern times. Architect Philip Johnson used it as a doorway (for University of Houston College of Architecture building in 1985, and also at the Museum of Television and Radio building in 1991, New York City). He said ‘I think Palladian windows have a prettier shape. I wasn’t trying to make any more important point than that’.


Rose window is a circular window usually found in Gothic period churches. It is divided into segments by stone mullions and tracery. Rose windows are also called Catherine windows after Saint Catherine of Alexandria who was sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel. Rose Window is fairly complex and evolved design, whereas its simpler and earlier version of Medieval period was called a wheel window, as it was divided by linear elements like spokes, radiating from a central solid boss. Circular windows called eye or ocular window or Oculus, in ceilings and high up in walls have been use since Roman times. Smaller circular openings also were placed over door and window openings.

Rose Window At York Minster taken from Minster Gates

Rose window Notre Dame

Rose windows are mainly placed on the West front of the church building and over the entrance door. Most common subject of the stained glass is the Christ seating in the centre and within the lights around him are placed four Gospel writers, Apostles, Prophets, Saints and Angels. Some windows show God’s dominion over skies by including heavenly bodies such as the zodiacal signs and Labors of the Months.

San Pedro, Ávila, Spain.


Georgian Architecture was widely used in the English colonies of the time. In the American colonies, colonial Georgian blended with the neo-Palladian style to become known as Federal style architecture. American Georgian houses typically have well-organised facade with five windows on the first floor and four windows plus a central colonnaded entrance door on the ground floor. The Georgian window is a double-hung sash window. Early in the 18th C, a classic style Georgian window was made of two sashes, each with 3 x 2 =6 glass panes. This remained in use even after the advent of larger glass panes in the 19th C. These sash windows, placed almost flush with the outer face of the walls, were painted white. The white colour over glazing bars also reduced their presence against the glass, making the window look more elegant. The preference for white colour sash windows has continued till today even though materials have changed from wood to plastics, steel and aluminium.


Vertically sliding window or sash windows are favoured for the ease of opening and controlled ventilation. Sash windows are less susceptible to warping due to moisture, as the shutter is bounded by a frame. Sash windows open by remaining within their frames, so do not distract, as do the hanging shutters of the casement windows. A Georgian sash window remained very widely used form till the use of steel casement windows as a cheaper and functionally superior option became acceptable.



bombaykalbadevieroad1890During the colonial period (of British and also Dutch, French, Portuguese) in India, the residential building designs were refashioned to suit the perception, attitudes, functional requirements, understandings of the climate and responses of the occupiers. One of the major differences in the local’s and the colonist’s lifestyle was the perception of privacy. The privacy was an issue of visitors and staff members moving around the house. The Europeans, mainly the British were strict about visual and audio privacy.


The double windows became a standard feature of mainly residential buildings since Colonial period in India and elsewhere in SE Asia. This was a period when across the Europe and USA double-hung sash windows were a rage.


The double windows had many versions, but had Two sets of double casement shutters. The top set was between nominal lintel level (or surmounted by extra top lite or top hung as ventilator), but the bottom set ended at nominal or slightly. The double windows solved problems of Tropical Climate. The upper section was sufficiently sun shaded and rainwater protected by the awning or Chhajja, and so could be kept open in all seasons. The lower section was opened in the evenings for the breeze over the floor level activities. It also allowed one to look out while seating on the floor or resting on the bed. The shutters were shelf-pivot hung or side-hinged, mostly opening to the outside.



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