Post 326 – by Gautam Shah
Windows, have evolved with many different technologies like glazing, hardware, etc. The styles have developed locally and spread to every corner of the world. Some new forms came into being like double sash windows, to replace highly fire-prone casement windows. Windows have developed to meet climatic and cultural needs typically the Zarokha like windows of Ahmedabad pol houses, Mashrabiya of Iraq-Iran or wood Louver shutters of Mediterranean area.
Windows to nowadays, are required to serve very special functions: High noise insulation windows are double glass panes with a sealed cavity, used for buildings in the vicinity Air ports, in foundries and forging plants. Theft and vandal proof windows in commercial establishments and museums, are made with toughened glass. Explosion proof windows, in war prone zones, are layered with membrane sheets. Radiation proof units for nuclear plants have metal or chemical sprayed on the surface, or ingrained in the glass. Space stations have gold dust sprayed windows to eliminate the effect of cosmic rays. Sound proof windows for recording studios are designed with dampening gaskets.
Today a window as an opening system is no longer a vertical or flat unit. It is being shaped and placed in all orientations, including horizontal, facing skyward and downward. Window units as a curtain wall have replaced the wall by effectively taking over most of the functions.
The major problem with a large size glass window is that, it is too thin (poor insulator) and allows large amounts of inward or outward transmission of energies like heat, sound, other vibrations, etc. This is now being overcome by compositions like a vacuum cavity sealed window units. Non frosting windows have embedded micro heating nets. Photo-chromatic glass controls the radiation. Artificial ventilation systems have obviated the need for a window to be ‘open’.
Till now, barrier systems were opaque, however curtain wall systems have created a see-through wall. An opaque barrier system like the traditional wall created a very sharp and sudden (drastic) change between inside and outside. Windows with glass have helped in diluting this transition.
Glass has till now been a flat material, and occasionally cast with curvature. Acrylics and other plastic (poly carbonate) sheets allow easy bending and moulding. Glass being morphic material is shattered on impact. Surface toughening and film sand-witching, provide some resistance. Membrane technology will perhaps provide materials that are non shattering, non tearing and stretchable on both axis.
Windows have served the purpose of organizing view. The windows create an interior environment from which to experience a continuously varying world, without associated climatic discomforts. High density urban growth however, does not offer a suitable panorama through a window. Perhaps a glass with embedded LCD will solve the problem. Glass and similar materials are morphic in nature, and are virtually opaque to transgression of air or moisture. Perhaps in future materials that are light transparent, but will allow air and moisture transgression across will replace glass.
Future windows will have ingrained systems to not only control the amount of light but also the colour tonal and hue saturation qualities. It will perhaps generate illumination of appropriate light and colour on its own or modify the visual-scape / scene to suit the mood of the user. It will perhaps as a membrane take over the function of ventilation from centralized plants. All these futuristic systems will be self regulating or intentionally controlled by the user. A user selective or Artificial intelligence governed opacity and transparency, localized to select area of the window will be part of living. A window may not remain a window, but instead become an interactive barrier system.