Post 506 by Gautam Shah



A space encounter, first ever or with familiar ones, actuates a search for the most appropriate location, orientation and body posture, amenities, facilities, supports, and environmental conditions, one needs to establish own-self. The search also includes many personal factors such as other people present and level of relationship with them, mood, past experiences, personal attitude (extrovert or introvert) and the purpose of visiting the space. The natural choice is some focal point of the space. It may not be the architectural-con-center, but has distinct affinity to the core zone of the space. To arrive and immediately reach a peripheral section, one needs to be extraordinarily purposive, almost like a service personnel who intentionally avoids any interaction with the happening in space.

Pritzker Pavilion Wikipedia Pic by Author TonyTheTiger

The reach in space, and anchoring to some point does not last very long. One begins to absorb the space, and shifts to another body posture, sensorial connections, orientation and even moves to the next location. The shift continues till the search is satiated with the perfect spatial and environmental conditions, required amenities, facilities and other supports are available. All these are disregarded, if some known person or group is available for communication and participation.

Airport Lounge waiting Flickr image by Author Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand

Space occupation is achieved by

  1. Positioning own self at some important location (a Cris-cross point of many spatial lines), from which many activities can be sensorially perceived.
  2. Orienting to some dominating feature of the space (like an entrance door, window).
  3. Staying closer to some presence (wall, column, furniture, person).
  4. Establishing associating with other people by closer distancing or intra personal communication.
  5. Continually shifting, reorienting, to conceal the discomfort arising from inability to occupy the space.

designed space-hotel-interior-design-restaurant-2042083

Ben Yehuda Street pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, Israel > Wikipedia Pic by Author Yoninah

street architecture en public-domain-photo-fkrgh

For space occupation important operative factors are: Range of cognition (capacity to perceive, project and communicate), Physical proximity (level of social interaction), Scale of relationship (age, social status), Nature of relationship (sex, familiarity) and Possibilities of exploiting amenities, facilities and other physical supports.

Party > Wikipedia pic by Author Infrogmation of New Orleans

A space user needs some control over the space:

  1. Multiple opportunities to change the location and position (including the posture) within the space.
  2. Choice to interact with others or refrain from it
  3. Freedom to adjust to the spatial quality and environmental conditions at micro level (like moving towards an outward opening, seat, stand, rest) and thereby achieve an equilibrium and comfort.
  4. Be noticed, or ignore others.
  5. Use sub-core or peripheral zones to form intimate groups.
  6. Shift to peripheral zones to conduct exclusive tasks.
  7. Ways and means to leave the space either in full knowledge of others or without being noticed.

Chennai Central Railway station India > Wikipedia pic by Author w:user:Planemad

Liverpool station

In very large spaces there are multiple points of anchorage for space occupation such as: the adjacent walls, hedges, mid columns, flower pots, water fountains, lamp posts, flooring, ceiling, and such patterns and objects. Spatial configurations like a stage, podiums, projection screens, speakers, singers, vivid objects, also hold interest by providing involvement.

Ball of City of Vienna (1900) ART by Wilhelm Gause

In parties, hosts make a conscious effort to break intimate formations by removing or adding key or active persons, or re-positioning and rescheduling the activities. In clubs and places of entertainment the environment (change in lighting, furniture, equipments) and programmes are reset to shift the focus off certain space segments. Group gatherings are designed to occupy different space segments (hall, terrace, lounge, coffee room, library, garden lawn, etc.), variegated environmental conditions (bright vs diffused illumination, change of music, etc.) and diversions (toast by the host, magic shows, musical renderings, dancing, etc.).

town city-monument-cityscape-downtown-vacation-1325985-pxhere




The INTERLUDE (intervening space)


Post 455 -by Gautam Shah




A space, a gap, an interlude, an entr’acte, all distinguish the continuity. It manifests in time and space. In architecture, human settlements, art, performances, expressions and communication, substantial content is of temporal and spatial interventions. The miss-out is intentional as well as circumstantial. The intentional gap extends the tempo or intensity to longer duration or stretch. The circumstantial gaps are required for inhalation and exhalation time, shifting from one tune to another, visual perception, and sensorial reactivity. The gap is just large enough to prepare for the subsequent reflection.

National Congress of Brazil, designed by Oscar Niemeyer

In Architecture the interludes help spread the mass. The spatial interludes are in the form of distance between buildings or sections of it, chowks, setbacks and offsets. The temporal interventions relate to time and so movement, such as time required for image grabbing, visual scanning, travel time clues such as milestones, scaling through perspective, and movement attests such as slopes (accelerations) and rises (decelerators). Building forms are gravity stacked and inverted, and offer different type of spatial interrelationship with the earth. Buildings are massed, where the adjoining mass is repetition (same), smaller or larger, but spatial connection is within a bridging distance. There occur three types of masses. The two end ones are real, whereas the nothingness in the middle is an ethereal one. The ephemeral bridging is aided by visual clues such as proportions, form, texture, colour, directionality and the context of perception (perspective, framing, referencing clues, etc.).


At micro level architectonic elements occupy the building spaces and surfaces by forming hierarchies, orders, series, sequences and harmonics. In all these the intervening element could be another object, but it is the space that reveals the underlying sub-face. The intervening elements, such as openings, columns, corners, shapes, projections and recesses, textures, colours, light-shade and other transgressions create the time and space matrices.


Human settlements have interludes formed between built spaces. The form, purpose and its bridges with built spaces, however, well planned, never persist. It changes with little innovations here and there. But the relationship between something (engagement) and nothing creates the settlement. Chowks, plazas, streets, roads, gardens, playgrounds, cemeteries, are juxtaposed against the built spaces. Each window of the house offers a different view. Each porch has a unique setting. Each dwelling has unique set of sounds, smells, air and feel due to varied intervening spaces.

Piazza Cisterna Italy

Artworks are select perspectives that reveal the connect between environment, buildings and people. The spaces between them are modulated by colour, size, depth of view, referential elements, framing and story content. In primitive cave-art it is the space between them and the form of the figures that create the stage. A stage, where each element is sited and interconnected.


Raphael School of Athens without intervening Floor Patterns and Wall decorations


Raphael School of Athens

Performances happen in designated space, but the definitions are marked by the actors and their acting. Stage properties, lighting, dresses, dialogue delivery (direction, loudness and position-orientation), all create spatial and temporal markings. But the interludes in time (covering the stage distances, and the body postural-gestural enactments for it) and in space (orientation, distance from co-actors, stage space edges and other properties) are created by exploiting the distances. Where physical distances are not enact-able, these are executed through sounds, lighting, etc. A performer can project real and ephemeral interludes on any space (stage) through behaviour.


Jazzart Dance Theater 69185 > Wikipedia image by Jazzart Dance Theater

Expressions are intentional as well involuntary. Expressions occur through gestures and postures, and both of which require some transition time to shift from one to another. The intervening period with nothing is also a form of expression. One can stretch or shorten the period and modulate the expression.


Interludes of Time and Space in Expression

Communication is also a form of expression where the intention is to convey information and ‘impress’ the receiver. It may happen ‘in-person’ or in ‘absentia. In absentia communications such as telephony, audio-video recordings, modulate the scope of expression. To suppress the data band width requirements the quality is depressed into narrow channels. But in spite of these, the spatial and temporal interludes are not affected. In some long distance communications the transition of up and down signals occur on the same channel, and so one misses the ‘quick-response’ or feedback experience.




Post 425 –  by Gautam Shah


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida

A system is an entity with recognizable parts or subsystems that in some way overlap or interact in time and space. This overlap of functions and degree of interactions project a singular purpose or identity of the system. A system is conceptual totality, but need not be a fathomable entity, like the atmosphere system. Systems have parts or subsystems that may seem to participate with other system. Such transcending parts individually reflect the nature of the systems they subsist on.

Richards Labs Penn L Kahn


Systems are also finite when they exist within an environment of discipline. Such open systems also have nodes where other distinct systems get attached. Many such interconnected systems again serve a singular purpose. Compared with the interconnected or open systems, there could be self-sustaining systems. Such systems are strongly contained, and so are closed systems. Open systems interact with other systems or outside environment, and Closed systems have little interaction with other systems or outside environment. Our body is an open system as it continuously interacts with the environment, where as a watch is nearly self sufficient entity.


Open system have external interactions, such as of information, energy, material and other resources export-import. Open systems retain the enthalpy to be in equilibrium. Open systems are like a digital word processor article or a spreadsheet which are amenable to changes or can be “adjusted’. Some legal agreements could an ironclad or closed document, which once created cannot be changed in any part, and must be redrawn. A quasi-legal agreement could be an understanding, an open document allowing future change or revision.

Emil Bach House FLW

In Architecture, buildings are classifiable into Open-ended and Closed-ended entities. An open-ended form and structure allow extensions or additions. Open-ended structures allow spatially limited or occasional alteration. Open-ended buildings have identifiable subsystems, each of which can be designed, executed, maintained, operated, upgraded, replaced or terminated by different agencies, at different times and circumstances. Open-ended systems inherently have multiple units of modulated sizes, form consistency patterned arrangement and perceptible organization.


Closed-ended structures have a self-sufficient form and singular purpose. Such structures reflect the one master ownership or single intent, and so are monumental, akin to a piece of sculpture. There may be nonfunctional repeat units in the composition for pattern making. A closed system does not transect anything, and may not have nodes of exchange. One need not be aware of the interior of the system, as there are ‘no repairable or serviceable components inside’. Such tags are very common on technical products of proprietary design.

All Gizah Pyramids

Certain forms or shapes are dominantly, either Closed-ended or Open-ended. Forms that are broader at the base, and narrower or pointed at the top, do not allow extension. Pyramid, cone or tower, are closed ended systems. Similarly drum like shapes allow little additions except in the upward direction. Contrary to this, a square or rectangle is very extendible shape in all directions. Old Basilicas and Church buildings have been added upon, but Hindu temple is rather a static form.

Houses of parliament British

Highly articulated buildings like Versailles or British Parliament, are closed ended or static structures. It would be difficult to add upon them in any relevant manner without compromising the integrity of the built-form. Indian Parliament has an annex connected with an access tunnel. Versailles has glass pyramids (closed ended entities) as new extension.

Sansad Bhavan

Architects create monumental buildings by compromising many other functions or requirements. For such purposes the building is conceived with a single form (though transgressed in many ways), single material, or sensuality, nonhuman or disproportionate scale and fewer sub elements. Some explorations towards closed ended architecture or monumental buildings have been deconstructionist, gravity defying and highly dynamic or mobile forms.

Vitra fire station -Zaha Hadid


ROOFS 3 -Skyline and Silhouette

Post 328 – by Gautam Shah



Screenshot_2021-02-06 Fishing boats in the early morning mist by CWebster

Roofs are most articulated elements of a building. Roofs form the skyline of a building, visible from a distance as a silhouette during twilight hours. A roof distinguishes a building among many other roofs. Roofs are single entity form covering nearly whole of structure, like for a pyramid or Pantheon. A roof could have a single domineering form, by height, mass or surface treatment. The roof mass is bloated by adding translucent forms like a belvedere, Chhatri, Turrets, galleries, Cupola, etc. These forms of varied sizes and shapes create an undulated edge over the roof.




Roofs have been important as they form a resonant skyline. Historical buildings formed a vibrant horizon by being on important terrain, large scale, height and the form. There are very few examples where a single roof structure (Parthenon) was created for dominance. Otherwise, several buildings forming a complex or an estate composed a variegated skyline. Such outlines were not pre-planned but evolved through deliberate additions and alterations over a period of time. In many cases the deliberations preceded with case study through on site sketches and scaled models.

The scenario has changed during the last century due to aircraft and satellites. Both have provided means of observing buildings from higher elevations. This has been a key factor in shape forming of not only high rise buildings but also large footprint structures. The composition of roofs (and entire structure) in making the skyline and silhouette, is pre-visualized for different atmospheric conditions, planned illuminations, and viewing positions including ground and air.


These add-on architectural elements are rarely functional entities, or are connected with the main Interior spatial character of the building. There is an attempt to articulate their scale, sequencing, proportioning, scaling, etc. Well-designed buildings executed in one era usually have such well integrated roof elements. The integration is seen in ‘picturesque’ views from all sides and corners.


Roofs that are well integrated with the architectural layout of the building have a mutual affinity. One of the first such building is Hagia Sophia of Istanbul. It was the extra ordinary scale that perhaps did not allow any room for manipulation or decorative improvisations. Whatever one, perceives from outside, is the exact reflection of the interior space arrangement.

Istanbul_Hagia_Sophia_SultanahmedA similar roof related truthfulness is seen in many of the Gothic structures of an earlier era. In later periods the roofs have been loaded with many decorative elements, statuettes, etc. All Gothic roof structures rise up from their vertical elements, in one continuum.



Roofs, have been axially-balanced compositions, and also disarrayed mass arrangements. In case of religious buildings where the attention is focused, the building and its roof follow the same system. The composition could be single, multi-axial or cross axial, yet a balance roof emerges. This is also true of Government buildings, courts and other public buildings.



Roofs of single form covering the entire building have been used as the structure to seen and recognized from a distance or sky. Airports, Railway stations, Stadiums, etc. have single roof mounts. Space station workshops, aircraft hangers, large industrial plants have large functional space, enforcing single roof structures.


Palaces and temples have very large vertical surface extent, and as a result the need for a bloated roof entity is not very strong. The roof lines are though undulated in various configurations. These structures have mixed roof structures, though well arranged but not in any formal or axial manner.




Roofs, in many buildings are, sloped structures. Sloped roof stretch the vertical face it abuts. This characteristic has been used in many buildings. Roofs have frontal slopes or side slopes accompanied by triangular pediment on main face.


Modern buildings have roofs that acutely technical facilities. Few buildings have roof top public-use facilities like a view deck. But buildings’ skylines are designed to form a distinguishing entity in a mass of urban developments. Buildings are conceived to be visible and recognizable identity, in all types of weather and lighting conditions.






Post 263 ⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


Glass has been used in architecture in THREE major ways. It has been used as a space moulding surface material, environment controller and for the metaphysical allusions.

Central Library Seattle Washington

Architecture has always been manifestation of surfaces. The surfaces have been predominantly opaque and omnipresent. This aspect has been sought to be dissolved in many different manners. The textural character of the built mass with its varying shadows has enlivened the surface. Structures like the pyramids or the burial chambers of Newgrange were monotonous, because the texturing elements were too small for the extent of the surface. The surfaces of later structures were further surface- modulated with incised with figures, writings or colour variations of materials. Large variegation of gaps, openings and massive impositions of columns and projections further dissolved the monolithic character of the form.

Chichen Itza pyramid Mexico

The diffusion of outer skin of a building was not desirable. In Egyptian or the Indian temples it exposed the inner areas to weather. The surface conversions for texturizing must remain an overt change, and for that reason an envelope was required. The envelope in Parthenon and other buildings were exterior surface composition. The inner core, covered by the outer skin had little need for surface treatment.

Erechtheion of the Acropolis, Athens

The monolithic nature of building and its surface character began to change with additions of functional units, such as wings, blocks, towers, campaniles and ambulatory spaces. The openings were made emphatic with various architectonic elements.

St. Michael’s Church, Hildesheim Architectural elements moulding the form

Abbaye Cerisy le Foret, Normandy, France Architectural elements moulding the form

The building’s exterior surface was fairly complex arrangement of forms. The interior surfaces though remained moderately plain, devoid of any play of architectural features. Interior surfaces of the Santa Sophia, Constantinople, were masked with bends of various materials, tying up openings, columns, etc.


Santa Sophia Interior Surface Treatment > Wikipedia image by Dean Strelau

 The Glass was not yet a force as a space moulding surface material. Its size was small, life short, quality inferior and very costly. It was just an illumination element that allowed, light without rains, winds minus the cold or warmth. It replaced parchment, alabaster, etc. The walls were massive to allow large sized openings. The framing techniques with stone, wood, and lead caulking were poor.

By Romanesque period there was realization that Glass is a good controller of environment. It could simultaneously protect and illuminate the interiors. Other realization was that, glassed openings shone at night, giving a brilliant recognition to the architecture. The same glass during day time, in spite of colour staining had lusterless or dull metallic grey face.

Strasbourg Cathedral, France The glass face during day time from outside was dull metallic grey surface

The interiors of the buildings of religious order were mural painted, but for that to be seen day time illumination was required. The openings seemed narrow in proportionately heavy thickness of walls. The resolution to this was in chamfering the inner edges of sides, sills and in instances lintel heads. This method gave a ‘sense’ of a larger source of illumination. For paintings on both long walls to be visible, the openings had to be on opposite walls. The placement of openings broke the continuity of the story telling board -the murals.

St Malachys Church, Castlewellan, Chamfered edges of windows enhance the brightness

The basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna –For wall art to be seen Windows on opposite face are necessary

Glass had its own tinge of colour which affected the colour scheme of the wall art. One way of diluting the tinge effect was to produce glass as thin as possible. This was done by blowing glass cylinders or bulbs and flattening them. This glass had imperfections that marred the visual clarity. The blown glass panes when placed in lower sections of the building distorted the scenery. Some form of occluding was required. Dwellings began to have sheer curtain masking, and in religious stained and painted glasses were used.



Post 261 – by Gautam Shah



The word Corridor has derived from Italian Corridore =place or space to run, which in turn has derived from correre or Latin currere=’to run’. By association courier, meant a man or horse who could run to deliver messages, money or documents. Italian word corridoio is a place, or rather space for the courier (man or horse) to run. From later part of 16th C. Corridors were strategic spaces or routes of access in fortifications. Used for quicker deliveries.

640px-Corridoio_vasariano_da_uffiziCouriers and corridors were used for faster deliveries by the military. It had military ramifications for defence or offense, but no civilian relate. The space for a faster messaging, the corridoio was not a marked territory or a facilitated ground within a fortification or dense urban setting. It was simply a familiar-well travelled precinct. In late 16th C it denoted a military term for a narrow strip of land along the edge of a ditch or fort-wall sometimes protected by a parapet. It was also a narrow walkway along the slope of a hill and sea. Trails are marked passageways but in the wilderness. Trails are so narrow that most vulnerable or unafraid ones lead the way, and others must trail.

Corridor Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Delhi Wikipedia Image by Jasleen Kaur from USA

Alleys, arteries, aisles, channels, lanes, couloirs, tunnels, paths, lobbies, vestibules, avenues, all have one common element: A linear passageway. A labyrinth and maze, both are entwined complex of passageways, where the former one ‘has a single path -unicursal, reaching the centre; and the later is a complex branching -multicursal puzzle, with choices of a path and directions’.

Labyrinth Chartres Cathedral France Wikipedia Image by Maksim.

The Jubilee Maze, an octagonal hedge maze near Symonds Yat in the Forest of Dean Wikipedia Image by NotFromUtrecht

Unknown paths and passageways pose as corridors of uncertainty, not due to the unfamiliar ends, but due to the monotonous, dark and acoustically spooky feel. Walled corridors are personal spaces that one wants to cross over in haste. Corridors are conceived for direct and fast access to a destination, but in public buildings these are used for delaying, waiting and lingering. Corridors may hasten the movement, but retard the creative pursuits. No one uses corridors for contemplation or any purposive activity.


The corridor is like a threshold, an uncertain space, which is not a public, or participatory space, or even a private or isolated place. Corridors have no identity due to its extraordinary length and non-specifiable character, but there is an acute sense of exposure of being seen and linked to a cell. Students asked to stand in a corridor, outside a classroom or headmaster office, and patients’ waiting in a hospital; know the loss of dignity. The offices, chambers and rooms create places of vulnerability in the corridor. The expression corridors of power come from the distinct delineation of cell and passage, or as architects argue the Master and service spaces.

The acoustics of the corridors are uncertain, as the internal sounds of steps, whispers, rustling, shuffling etc. reverberate in the space without providing any clue to source or direction. Some corridors have an eerie silence due to complete isolation of background noise of an outside world. Corridors, as a result of acoustic ill-definitions, are considered places of ghosts. Foot-stepping in a corridor has a multiplying effect, where the past trails behind you like a shadow. To detach the past, one may walk lightly, only enhancing the effect of a ghost moving in the air.


Visual characteristics of a corridor is very fuzzy. The darkness does not allow visual clarity, and the glare against the end of the passage opening occludes visual perception. The repetition of side wall faces or columns of the passage distorts recognition of distance.


Enclosed corridors and open passages serve nearly same function that of transit, but have different architectural character. Both could be space demarcations, recognition or enforcement without any physical structure. The essence of corridors or passages is not in their straightness but linearity. The height profile and roof, if any, place them on a different lineament.


Corridors denote heavy density of traffic, usually with dedicated lanes and purposes. A dedicated freight corridor (DFC) on railway lines, or an air corridor for landing or take off by aircraft are simply designated space routes and not any physically marked entities. Routes are designated for special purposes carriages. Ports have buoys to mark the channel for ship to traverse.

Buildings on ‘distributed campus’ are connected with links, passages or lobbies. The side open passages (long-verandah) are cold or warm, and a maintenance nightmare. Passages require glass cover or need to be walled in. Glass cover is a costly installation and needs high degree of upkeep. Walled corridors have been perceived to be dark, poorly ventilated and haunted spaces. This was in stark contrast to Asiatic tropical architecture. Here the temple complexes had vestibules and ambulatory areas, in the interiors as well as on edges of exteriors. The inner long hall like vestibules were dimly lit, but climatically cool spaces, whereas the edge side ambulatory passages were airy, but sun shaded. The ambulatory spaces have walls of a sanctum sanctorum on one face dotted, but with several small deities installed in niches.

Samayapuram Mariamman Hindu Temple, at Samayapuram, near Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India Wikipedia Image by TRYPPN, P.Periyannan, Tiruchirappalli

Precursors of corridors are presumed to be Halls or Hallways, a common area near the entrance of a large house. Halls are abutted with doors to several rooms or sections, and in later periods a grand stairway to upper floors. Residential or commercial buildings of Europe had no corridors till the beginning of 1800s. The Building was an entwined complex of rooms.




All Opening systems have dual character: an inside and an outside one. But very often a third facet is recognized as the depth of the opening (cross section of the opening). Here the significant elements are: the spatial thickness or the duration of transiting through the opening system, and the configuration of the opening system. The Depth of the opening is revealed in the bevelled edges or chamfered sides on inside or outside. On outer face it enlarges the size of the opening and on the inside face it diffuses the daylight illumination. A bottom taper brings the light to the floor and a sloped interior head illuminates the ceiling.


The third facet or the depth dimension of the opening systems is also the threshold. A threshold has two distinct worlds on either of the sides, one or both of which could be real or notional. A threshold could also be factual or abstract depending on the real or notional worlds across it. The threshold areas are resting zones, zone for transition, point of decision making, celebration, welcome or separation.


The third facet or the depth also governs the changes occurring in transit through the opening. The interim space or time changes like delay in passage, filtration, funneling, release, mixing, directional alignment, etc. change the quality of interior space. Some of these changes are passive, but many use energy. Active change enforcing elements are like window air-conditioner, air cooler, exhaust fans.


Depth of the door or windows regulates the pattern of illumination and field of view. The depth on exterior space enhances the shadows and so the depth, but the same on an interior side adds to the surface area of the space.


External walls of the buildings, till about the Gothic period were heavy offering two choices for showing the depth on ether the external or internal side. But Gothic buildings’ thinner walls did not such a play. So instead the Windows were elaborately divisioned. The trend reached its extreme with glass curtain wall buildings. Here the third dimension of the opening was completely eliminated. Mies van der Rohe was criticized for using very emphatic mullions.




OCULUS -Circular windows

Post -by Gautam Shah



Detail of oculus of Mercury on the New York and New Jersey Telephone Company Building in down town Brooklyn

In architecture, circular openings have been held with very high fascination. A circle is a centric and balanced shape and so fits into any composition. Oculus is a Latin term meaning an eye (Oculi -plural). In architecture, oculus has become synonymous with the pair of volutes on Ionic column and the Roman circular gaps or openings.

Screenshot_2020-03-06 General Dynamics Electric Boat test engineers, Glen Colechia, Jason Hartle, and Matt Derosier place a[...]

Optometrist assigned to the 442nd Medical Squadron

The purpose of many such circular openings was mostly architectural composition, and sometimes to allow subtle light to illuminate the interior spaces rather to see the exterior. The circular gaps were often completely open, with pierced panels or glazed with crude glass -as was available at the time.


Oculi openings are also called: Oeil-de-boeuf, Bull’s-eye, Ox-eye, Wheel, or Roundel windows. Oculi is small circular or oval shaped gap in the upper sections of the walls, over doors and other openings, cupolas, in roofs, on the drums that support the dome, in the ends of a gable roof, or within a pediment over an opening system. These are also placed on the top of a dome as in Roman Pantheon.





Circular openings have originated from the Roman circular gaps or oculus. Circular windows and decorative circular recesses are a feature of many Romanesque churches and cathedrals, such as in Santa Maria in Pomposa, Italy, 10th C. However, it was by the middle of the 12th C that it became larger in size and a richly decorated element. By the middle of the 13th C its size had increased to cover the entire width of the nave. Circular windows were placed mainly at the West end of the nave and the ends of the transepts.

Roman Burial chambers

OEIL-DE-BOEUF WINDOW: In French, oeil-de-boeuf means ‘eye of the steer’. It is a small circular window resembling a wheel, often with radiating glazing bars similar to spokes of a wheel.

WHEEL WINDOW: Wheel window is a circular window divided by simple spokes radiating from a central boss or opening.

ROSE WINDOW: Rose window is also a circular window wherein the straight spokes became rounded at the outer edge, and at the centre began from a hollow roundel. The Rose window has more complex design that looks like a multi-petaled rose. The term Rose window is often used as a generic term applied to any circular window. The term Rose window is especially used for those found in churches of the Gothic architecture. The Gothic Rose window is divided into segments by stone mullions and tracery. The name Rose window was not used before the 17th C. A simple circular window without tracery is called an ocular window or oculus.

640px-Bristol_Central_Library_round_windowsRose windows with pierced openings rather than tracery occurred in periods between the Romanesque and Gothic. Many varied patterns evolved across Europe. Rose windows were initially placed under round arch, but later began to be accommodated within a pointed arch, as was done in the Reims Cathedral 1230. Rose windows have been inscribed in square, with pierced spandrels, as in Notre Dame of Paris, 1257.

Circular opening believed to be the Precursor of circular Gothic Rose window Umayyad palace Khirbat al-Mafjar 784

German art historian Otto Von Simson considers the origin of the rose window to the six lobed rosettes and octagon windows which adorned the external wall of the Umayyad palace Khirbat al-Mafjar built in Jordan around 740. The theory suggests that crusaders brought the design of this attractive window to Europe, introducing it to churches.


In Baroque period many shapes of ocular windows were used. These were oval or of a more complex shape. They were of very simple form, neither traceried nor crossed by mullions, but were mounted by ornate carving. The Baroque oculi were rarely a dominant visual element, either over the façade or on the interior face. Compared to this the great Gothic windows, were very important elements of the façade scheme.

circle_building_square_nakagin_porthole-68577.jpg!dModern circular openings include L Khan’s Indian Management Institute, Ahmedabad and Assembly buildings at Dhaka, Bangladesh. Other examples include modernistic circular openings, marine and space ships’ hatch windows.

IIMA Inside_a_dorm_in_the_old_campus.