LEGENDS of OPENINGS -1

Post 440 – by Gautam Shah

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A gap or overlapping edges of barriers allow us to experience the other side. It is through such openings that one senses the change of state. An opening is always a smaller element than the mother barrier. In spite of its size subjugation it is far more powerful in effect. An opening presents three facets, one of this side, the other side, and the verge. This side is the familiar and protected one, and is the ’in-side’. The other side is unknown and a dangerous realm, and the ‘out-sides’. And the verge is a dilemmatic position, and it is prudent before crossing it. Verge delays the transit through the opening, as here one has to fearlessly step forward or cowardly draw backward.

A MountainPass

The opening and the barrier, exist together, and both could be real or allegorical. But openings in real barriers have also been exclusively symbolic. Openings are synonymous with many objects and expressions, such as entrance, gate, gateway, passage, portal, access, bridgehead, adit, admission, admittance, ingress and way. Openings through the allegory of inside-outside portray, respectively, a built or enclosed space, and open terrain. Openings also represent a domain for compliance or submission, for being responsible and waiting for permission or opportunity to leave or enter.

A Gap in the barrier system.JPG

Openings have been part of our folklore and legends, often with diverse meanings. Openings have been dealt in their interior as well as exterior expressions. The interior expressions of the opening relate to way of life, virtues, good manners, exemplary behaviour, restraints, and exterior manifests as supernatural, unpredictable, dilemmas. Out-sides are stepping out to freedom, or being kicked out of the safety. In-sides are invitation to warmth, or going to a confinement.

ART by Richard Burchett Sanctuary (1867) contrasts

A’raf (Arabic =The Heights) is the Muslim realm, described as a high curtain or wall with an opening, between hell and paradise. It allows simultaneous experience of terror of hell and the beauty of paradise to inhabitant, whose sins and virtues are balanced.

The Dilemma of crossing the verge

Tolkien (of Lord of the Rings) inverts the usual association of being inside’ with safety, and being outside with danger. Inside is lurking with unknown dangers, and the outside is an escape to freedom. Forests are entrance points and open lands exit points. And yet he depicts entry to a forest, water body, caves, and barrows as entering into a dark unknown place and coming out into the open light of the fields, is to have survived the dark dangers of woods, water, and earth with newly gained knowledge and confidence. Tolkien uses the openings in various physical constructs, metaphysical effects and metaphorical forms. He uses the opening (directly or indirectly to a door, window, gate, or other passageway) as lead to a change in a character’s state. The sketches of ‘before and afterwards’ of tunnels, caves, and mines, represent what was before against what new things wait on the other side. It is the realm of conflict.

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In literature barriers are thresholds that represent the dichotomies of safety, danger, control, chaos, inclusion and exclusion. A barrier without any opening is epitomized in the classical Indian Epic Ramayana, Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, is barred by a drawn line (by her brother-in-law) a Laxman-Rekha, restricting her movement beyond it. A territorial mark on the ground that defines whether one is included or excluded from the macrocosm. Here the threshold exists in spite there being no physical barrier. In other words, we must cross the thresholds that paradoxically lead us both, outward and inward, and to a deeper understanding of our strengths, weaknesses and recognition of our relationships with the cosmos.

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In movies a passage or opening is a portent of change, new happening or a move forward. An opening framed as the backdrop of a character translates as the impediment, but the same in-front of the character shows a victory at hand.

Balinese split gate

City Gate Towers Romania

An opening in a barrier is a facility to transit. Where the transit takes time, it becomes a passage. The passage as a stretched verge (threshold) affects the transition taking place. Openings are marked by their sides or the frame. The floor (plain, ramped, stepped or a mountable hindrance) is a primary transit facility. The possibility of exchange is reinforced by the sides of the barrier. The framing with the floor and sides causes a recognizable opening such as a valley, cliff, gorge, or walkway. The opening is caused primarily by the formatted sides and then by the transit-able floor. The Egyptian temple entrances consist of tall sides formed by a pair of columns, pylons or obelisks. The lintel or head is architecturally less significant, just incidental.

Luxor Temple Pylons and obelisk

Henrik B. Lindskoug while studying the prehistoric site Pichao, NW Argentina, raises questions like: Where do entrances lead? Where are they located? What do they connect? Are paths leading between different entrances? Is there some way of controlling the paths? Who had access to the entrances and the paths? Where are they placed? What is the size of the entrances? Is there a reason behind the size of the entrances? How were they used?

King's Cross Fiction mixing into Reality panoramio

At mundane level, an opening is entry-exit of a built-form. It serves many functions such as control over illumination, intrusion, acoustical disturbance, visual engagement, social interference and movement of air and pollution and thermal emission. At symbolic level it offers hope, new life or fresh beginning, isolation from the familiar, ventures into unknown, initiation into mysteries, fear and expanded communications. At spiritual level it provides an encounter with the supernatural, a communion and unification with the creator (Christ -I am the door).

Machu Picchu door.jpg

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AWNINGS or SHADING DEVICES

Post 398 – by Gautam Shah 

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Yonge_Street_crowd_celebrating_the_end_of_the_Boer_War

Awnings are sun and snow shading devices of flexible fabric or sheet material that can be rolled or folded back when not required. Awnings are as old as human civilization. First awnings were of hides or woven mats to provide shade at select locations against solar and rain exposure. In ancient Egyptian, Syrian and many other ancient civilizations, awnings were used for shading market stalls.

outside an Indian dyer’s house

One of the earliest awnings like shading device was the Roman Velarium over the Colosseum. It provided both shade and slight protection from rain, although the main use of the Velarium was to create ventilation updraft, creating circulation and a cool breeze. Velarium effectively shaded one-third of the arena and seating and another third was shaded by the high surrounding walls. It could be extended or retracted with ropes and pulleys according to the position of the sun. To hold the Velarium 250 sockets were provided on the outer structure of Colosseum. The fabric panels were of triangular shape, wider at the top and narrower at the bottom, for easy retraction. Awnings were also a common feature of all Roman theatres and amphitheatres.

Concept model of Colosseum Velarium

From the word Velarium (from velare to cover) it is believed that sailors, with their background in sail-making and rigging were employed to build, maintain and operate the structure. Roman poet Lucretius (50BC) describes ‘Linen-awning, stretched, over mighty theatres, gives forth at times, a cracking roar, when much ’tis beaten about, betwixt the poles and crossbeams.

Marriage Mandap or Shamiyana

Ancient Indian texts describe a form of Mandapa (or Mantapa)of temporary nature with four corner supports of wood or bamboo. Chandani (literally moon-shade, or chandarava) is an Indian shading structure, tied by four stretched strings, has been described in ancient Jain literature.

Indian Miniature painting

Mughal miniature paintings show Shamiana or Pandal is a tent shelter for daytime and evening entertainment. Shamiana was used as temporary resting place by royals when on the move. The external fabrics of velvet were multicoloured with exquisite designs. Shamiana are supported with four wooden poles, and often an extra central one like a tent.

visit of Viceroy to Maharaja of Kashmir under a shamiana

Awnings are shading devices placed over openings like doors, windows and shop fronts. Awnings are also used for forming the entrance spaces like porch, verandah or porticoes. Awnings permit shop keepers and restaurant owners to stretch their premises. It shades the glass fronts, keeps away the glare and allows greater visibility to goods displayed in deep interiors. Awnings allow personalization of the shop or restaurant by its form and colour. In Asia awnings or shades create a place of merchandising on any open grounds, and so fairs, festivals and holiday markets are entirely formed of such temporary structures.

Ritz Hotel Paris

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Awnings, have been consistently used in various climates of the world. In Asian bazars awnings have been in use for many centuries, for summer sun shading and rain shading during monsoons, but became very popular during the early 1900’s when shop windows or shop fronts became possible with the economic availability of clear large sized glass.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth Inaugural Address, shows the White House’s south face before the Truman Balcony was built

Awnings are used to extend the buildings. Early awnings had hard wood or bamboo as front cross bar, whereas the support edge was secured by grommets (eyelets) and hooks, or tied by laces to the head rod or support bar. The front end was supported either by inclined spears or metal posts.

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Awnings as Hard awnings are made from stiffer sheet materials and have rigid and permanent support system. Awnings with column or bracket supports are canopies. In India hard awnings are also called Chhajjas.

Awning Shangrila hotel in Paris

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A canopy is a fixed awning like structure, supported on all sides. Canopies are used to extend the shaded space near an opening system. Canopies are used to cover the passageways or car drive bays. Canopies are demountable and foldable but not necessarily retractable or collapsible like an awning. Dutch type or canopy awnings are similar to a perambulator hood, with an umbrella like folding frames.

Structure of an awning is very light. It has a flexible cover and a very light weight support frame that can be retracted or folded. The cover is made with a canvas or similar heavy duty fabric of cotton, polyester or polypropylene fibres. Layered composites of fabrics and polymer sheets, and coated fabrics are also used. Modern awnings are of single colour or with stripes of two or more colours. Awnings often have a festoon, valance or Toran like borders at its front edge. Awnings on shops, restaurants and hotels have their name and logo on the roof face and on the front edge.

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BEVELLED GLASS in DOORS and WINDOWS

Post 393 – by Gautam Shah 

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A bevelled glass is made by dressing or grinding the edge or sections of a design with a slope, chamfering or an angled edge to create special effects. The edge dressing creates a prism like effect and alters the way light refracts while passes through the glass or reflect of the surface. Bevelling splits the light into unusual patterns including a rainbow of colours. Bevelled glass is installed in doors and windows to add dynamism to daylight illumination of a room. There were few other techniques of treating the glass, like fire finish, etc. for special lighting effects. These were devised as soon as glass for windows matured in quality.

Green Roman glass cup unearthed at Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) tomb, Guangxi, China

Early glass, such as of Romans was mainly in the form of fuzzy disks that were inserted in terraces, arched barrels and domed roofs for illumination of interiors. These were very fuzzy or low intensity illuminating devices. Glass disks were polished to reduce the fuzziness due to the surface or casting related impurities. Irregularities related to manufacturing were of several types, such as the colourant contamination, bubbles or casting -moulding methods. In spite of grinding, all of these could not be eliminated so easily. Clear glass panes of some translucency were first made by blowing it to thin walled cylinders or bulbs, then cut and flattened. These, 3rd C, methods gave clearer glass, because it was of a thinner body and larger in size than the cast disks. These panes were placed in structured punctures as a fixed panels. The glass was more translucent but visually very hazy.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The hazy glasses, however, provided wonderful glow to interiors. The costs were prohibitive due to the rarity, high cast of installation and need for frequent replacement. The ‘daytime glowing glass’ had inconsistent levels of impurities. An opening with several such panes would look fairly patchy, but this was camouflaged with glass colourants. The colourants or staining compounds offered a palette of colours.

The stained glass provided a daytime glow to the interiors, but it was not a working level of illumination. The increased openings’ size and larger glazed extent provided sufficient interior illumination on clear day and for few hours of daytime exposure. This problem was solved by using lighter tones of colours than the ‘pot’ glass, and by leaving substantial sections of image backgrounds (other than the holy images) of colourless glass.

Typical fuzzy glass in the 14th century Lyme Regis watermill, UK.

The Church interiors began to use glasses of lighter colours and plain glasses. These reduced the overpowering effect of colour in the interior space, allowing gilding and other ornamental details to be seen and also permitting the building to glow on outside, at night with interior lighting. It also allowed the reappearance of wall paintings, and colouring of architectonic interior elements.

Elegant figures in subdued colours. 1890

The glass as produced by cylinder or crown method was hazy, with marks of flutes but fairly colourless. It was of small sized panes. The panes were joined together with lead cames. The lead cames which earlier, marked the free flowing strong defining lines of the image, were now grid forms. American colonial sash windows represent the classic grid. The glass, of the industrial revolution period had manufacturing defects such as lines, flutes and rings. It was not possible to view the exterior as one large picture across the leads. The leads’ grid however imposed a visual discipline, rest of the disguising was achieved by thin see-through curtains and by painting the windows white.

Stenciled quarries of cathedral glass, c. 1900

During the industrial revolution period clear quality glasses of very large sizes began to be available. Very large and absolutely flawless, water white clear glass had its own problems of acceptance. It was too clear for the interior privacy, and provided no framing or visual masking over the view to outside. The problem was partly solved by installing curtains with both sides having visual appeal. Its appearance was rather too consistent.

Bluecoat Chambers in Liverpool, 1717

Some longed for the dynamism of variegated glass and visual masking. These two elements were provided by engraving and etching the glass surface with textures and patterns. To this was added the technique of glass bevelling. Glass bevelling is done in THREE basic manners. Edges of the glass panes are bevelled, very much like the wood panels in a door. Glasses are bevelled grooved by engraving. And the glasses are overlayed by smaller pieces of bevelled edged shapes.

St Nicholas Church Moreton Dorset

Bevelled glasses are used for doors, windows and partition panels. The bevelled glass is often additionally treated with grinding, etching, engraving, and painted staining work. Bevelled glass was favoured as it provided occlusion for privacy and isolation, but nowadays window glasses with various levels of tinting, metallic sprays, polyester films, etc. provide the same facility. Bevelled glass is still unrivalled in terms refracting the light in a spectrum of colours and dynamism.

Engraving on Glass

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NATURE OF OPENINGS

NATURE OF OPENINGS

Post 392 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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An opening is any space or gap within a barrier. An opening is meaningful so far it is in a barrier. The opening could be a ‘puncture’, surrounded by the barrier on all its sides, or a cleavage between two barriers. Openings are also called ports, as across the opening one can ‘board’ a new system. An opening is called a passageway, as this is the only way, one can, transit a territory.

Chaco Canyon Pueblo Bonito doorways

An opening can never be larger or equal to a barrier within which it resides. All physical openings have a finite size. A smaller opening makes a barrier system very evident, whereas a large opening or multiple openings make barriers less effective. Opening systems are also ineffective in transparent, translucent or frequently interrupted (broken or discontinuous) barriers. A room with a lattice wall all around has no need for a window, or a glass cabin has no need for an opaque (solid) door.

Manhattan Bridge Arch and Colonnade

Openings are defined by superlative structures to denote the presence and control the activities occurring through it. The superlative structures over passageways such as Gates, Gateways or Doorways are large in size and very distinctively formed. Formal structures have shutter devices whereas symbolic structures are simple openings. Nominally a passage is a linear entity, and so do the gates have singular passage. Cross junctions of passages require four or more sided gates.

Multiple Openings

The superlative structures function as control Gateways over openings. Such openings’ control the transactions, by way of the size, volume, temporal rate of passage and the qualitative nature of things. The transactions across the openings are of two ways, exit and entry types, and so the controls are also dualistic.

Gates with sensors

Gates with minimal structure

All communication channels have Gateways, from where the traffic gets diverted to appropriate channels and portals where divergent traffic gets ‘routed. These gateways register size of individual transactions, time of arrival-departure and source-destination of traffic. But most importantly there are ‘protocols’ that check whether the destined item has reached or not.

Surveillance gates or ports

In buildings openings like Gates, Doors, Windows, Ventilators, Gaps, Cracks, Crevices and Punctures all denote physical entities, but there are innumerable imperceptible points where observance and control occur. The sensors, cameras, readers, etc., are concealed, made minute in size and programmed so that ‘Gates’ structures are not imminent.

Openings in buildings have facilities for allowing sunlight, air, sounds and for framing view of the outside. The openings also create architectural patterns, compositions through scaling and proportioning, endow specific style character, affinities and identities. The openings occur in a barrier system as a connecting threshold or edge between two distinct worlds, but their own presence assumes many different guises. An opening is designed to be a distinct medium investing a nature of relationship between spatial domains.

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WINDOWS and VENTILATION

Post 280 – by Gautam Shah

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Windows served two main functions for interior spaces: Ventilation and Illumination. To this was added the view out with the advent of glass. The window became part of shop front and it served the purpose of view in.

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For several centuries a window was a minor entity for Illumination of domestic interiors. The door provided enough day time illumination. Domestic finer activities, such as the needle craft were conducted just inside or outside the threshold of the door. In deeper spaces, such as inner rooms, roof holes provided basic illuminance. In early public buildings, illumination was provided through smaller openings covered with parchment or alabaster. The areas of window opening though small, was distributed over a larger surface made available through increased interior heights.

Door as the only opening in the dwelling

In a tropical house admission of light is usually accompanied by heat gain, but the breeze coming through a door balances the interior environment. In tropical climates interiors tend to be darker to reduce the heat gain compared to colder climates where greater illumination is perceived as warmth. Naturally illuminated lit spaces are perceived to be healthier.

Ventilation in extreme climates such as very warm and cold, occurs through the temperature gradient between outside and inside. In hot and humid climates, the temperature gradient is not acute enough to cause natural air movement of a sufficient quantum. The need for large volume air movement is significant for moisture control in hot humid areas.

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Ventilation requirements of an interior space vary depending on the number of occupants, nature of indoor cooking activities, fuels used for indoor heating and cooking, duality of distinct entry and exit points, the structure of the dwelling and scope for micro passive ventilation. To a smaller extent the ventilation needs are governed by the siting of the dwelling, such as the densely populated urban colony. Ventilation also depends on the nature of opening (cracks, crevices, holes), size of opening, number, distribution, location, orientation, and external climatic conditions (snow, rain, windy).

Micro ventilation

Cracks and gaps being unintentional are usually insufficient for heavier needs of ventilation and cooling or heating of spaces such as for toilets, kitchens, production areas and public spaces. Planned openings like windows on external face provide for such needs at the location, elevation, depth and in required quantity (such as a rate of air change -dilution, and the rate of air flow). The effectiveness of windows in achieving desired ventilation depends also on which windows are opened, how far they open, and the nature of shutter fixing.

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Ventilation requirements for a dwelling are regulated by the cooking activity. In hot arid climates cooking is done outside the house, in an attached facility or semi open lean-to shades. Kitchen areas are sited in isolated spaces or corners. Cooking with a centric hearth occurred where it also contributed heat for warming. Moisture dilution is an important factor of ventilation requirements. In hot humid climates water utilities like storage and usage (bathing and washing) are placed in the Chowk like interior courtyards, outside or away from the dwelling. According to cannons of Building design, the Vastu Shastra, place of water is in the North-East side. This orientation provides for exposure to south-west face, the warmest or Sun side in the Northern hemisphere.

Punjab India -Open air – outdoor cooking minimises internal ventilation needs

Ventilation is required to dilute the odours, moisture, carbon dioxide, airborne pollutants such as dust, smoke, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), latent heat from air, objects, etc. and encourage evaporation of body moisture and thereby cause cooling.

Windows provide ventilation, more effectively in rooms with internal doors (that is a door not opening to an exterior face), and especially when the exterior face door is closed for security reasons, such as at night. Movement of air between indoor spaces, and not the outside, is called transfer-air. Transfer-air has very little role in diluting the polluted air.

Windows placed on opposite sides and on same axis are better ventilating devices. The position of window vis a vis the work plane or task is determined whether one wants a draught-breeze over the body and the task, or avoid it. The nature of shutter opening also determines the direction of the internal air movement.

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Windows with shutters opening outward often obstruct the wind path, but double hung sash windows and sliding shutters which open within the frame are better as receptors. Casement window shutters with offset hinges or friction stay which create a small gap on the jamb side help in catching the breeze. Hoppers, awning and jalousie windows direct the breeze due to the angle of opening. The depth of a window and its surround also affects the nature of ventilation. Splayed sides create funnel effect to catch the breeze.

Mumbai Houses -One face for ventilation

Most building codes suggest minimum opening area (including doors, windows, etc.) @4 to 5% of the floor area. But actual ventilation requirements are higher such as during rainy days, moisture content is very high, or when during celebrations and social events lot of people gather in a room. Nominally openings (including doors) @20% of the floor area, are sufficient for the purpose of ventilation, provided some sections of the openings are located within the human height (1.75 mts). Even in unoccupied rooms some ventilation is required to remove fumes and moisture generated by materials, plants and condensation. Minimum volumetric requirements for ventilation are 23 to 25 CMt per person per hour, and 12 to 16 CMt per Kg of fuel burnt. Large sized openings create turbulent air movements, whereas cracks and crevices create a viscous or laminar flow.

Commonly ventilation is measured in terms of entire interior volume of air gets replaced per hour, it is called air changes per hour, ACH, but requirements for air for well being per person are also specified. Minimum 0.35 ACH, but the supplied air must be no less than 15 cfm/person or 7.5 l/s/person. Since 2003, the standards for ventilation have been changed on floor area basis which is from 3 CFM/100 sq. ft. or 15 l/s/100 sq. m. to the 7.5 CFM/person or 3.5 L/s/person. To find the total amount of outside air required, one needs to add 3 cfm/100 sq. ft. or 15 l/s/100 sq. m. to the 7.5 cfm/person or 3.5 l/s/person. Thus, the air change rate requirement will vary by the size of the house and the occupancy.

Ventilation is required for a fire emergency from areas like corridors, stairs, etc. Openings for ventilation are necessary for all climate conditions, but control requirements are very acute in warm and extremely cold climates, due to outward leakage of internal air.

1965_AMC_Ambassador_detail_of_vent_window

For adequate ventilation the building must take full advantage of prevailing breezes on the site. This includes consideration of: seasonal and diurnal wind patterns, land contours and other topographical features, shape and form of the building, height of the openings, axial position of the openings, work or task plane, physical state and age of the occupants, etc. Other important conditions are position of the window, the form of the surrounds and projections and design of the window shutter.

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DOORS – INTERIOR and EXTERIOR EXPRESSIONS

Post 199 —by Gautam Shah

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Doors have dual expressions, the interior and the exterior one. The interior expression relates to the enclosure, restraint, control, predictable behaviour, family, a way of life, virtues, etc. The exterior expression is associated with unpredictable conditions, unrestrained behaviour, memories, connection to other elements of building, the relationship and comparison with other openings. The interior and exterior expressions interpolate to form the street or neighbourhood. The neighbourhood manifests at the threshold. It is the most dilemmatic element of the building. And it is this behavioural indecisiveness that causes very strongly differentiated architectural representation. The interior and exterior differences are perceived through the resultant architectonic vocabulary. The Door itself may be physically identical on both the faces, but its adjacent elements endow a different image.

Cathedral de Cuzco_

Cathedral de Cuzco_

Exterior doors are synonymous with many objects and expressions, such as, the entrance, gate, gateway, passage, portal, access, admission, admittance, ingress and way-in. Interior doors represent relief, escape, exit, safety, security, privacy, assurance, and control.

httpswwwflickr comphotosbrighton4866414978In various cultures, doors opening outward and inward, imply peculiar meaning. A door opening outward shows that one needs to be more accessible to others. Roman society permitted individuals of high honour to have external door opening outward. An inward opening door, however, indicates a desire for inner exploration and self-discovery. Common citizens of Roman society had doors opening inward. The door was always open to a stranger and community, secured by a dog or its image. Roman Goddess Cardea had powers obtained the Door god Janus ‘to open what is shut and to shut what is open’.

Inward opening door

Inward opening door

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Sliding door

Outward door

Outward door

For the Japanesethe door to happiness opens outward. A door simply imposes itself upon the room when it opens inward. Having the door open inwards has the outside intruding upon the inside’.

Feudal schools of etiquette prescribe all kinds of norms for opening a door and coming into a room. Sukisha, well-bred people use the hand, nearest the door to open it a few inches (the length of a forefinger, to be exact) and then switch hands to slide it back the rest of the way. A man is judged by how he opens a door and a woman by how she shuts. This is so because in a room with a group of men, a woman served the food and take a leave. She would be observed closing the door behind her with grace. The balanced and graceful action of folding down one’s knees on the floor, moving into a room, keeping at a level equal to others already in the room, were part of larger ceremony. The skills of opening and closing a sliding Japanese doors are part of reishiki, proper form or etiquette.

The exterior door is pronounced due to elements and functions that forms the entrance. In modern cities, the exterior door, as the entrance, is omni present at street level. The same door begins to diminish when the buildings are fed by underground parking, subterranean metro trains. In media, the window and the wall structure now carry the image of the city and the building, which was once sensed by the entrance. High level access from elevated track roads and trains, air and helicopter travel, is reinforcing the image of architecture that has no setting for the door. The door technology instead of being dependent on the physical form for the shutter, is moving to invisible surveillance and control.

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An exterior door is the major or more used opening system and it controls the illumination, intrusion, acoustical disturbance, visual engagement, social interference, movement of air and pollution and thermal emissions. Throughout history and across cultures, doors, doorways, portals, gates and thresholds have been potent objects and symbols of superstition, rites and rituals, psychological change, transcendental and religious experience.

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The interior doors are now less frequent in spaces. Single space residences, single or two person occupancy homes, open-office layouts, multi-shop malls, all have fewer inner doors. Interior spaces are more recognized by the amenities and facilities, rather then the architectural barriers including doors. An interior door is a facility, and a demountable and relocatable one. An interior door leads one out of a space, to another space, but that can also occur with a plain gap. Interior doors in a passage are bridgeheads.

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CURTAINS

Post 192 – by Gautam Shah 

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610px-Dou,_Gerrit_-_A_Woman_playing_a_Clavichord_-_Google_Art_Project

 

ORIGINS of CURTAINS

Curtains, in history have preceded formal construction of a door or window. Crude forms of cover over openings have served the functions of doors and windows. Primitive covers over the openings, the curtains, were of woven mats bounded by a stiffer edge staff or stick. These were placed over the opening for protection, to reduce light, obstruct the breeze and rain, and to obtain privacy.

Screenshot_2019-10-21 Pinterest - India

Woven fabrics and mats that were used as floor spreads, the residual pieces of which were also used as cover for the window like gaps. The system of mat covering over a window continued even when the doors and windows had wood planks shutters. The soft-covering were no different from the solid plank doors or windows’ shutters, except that it was easier to manipulate. The soft-mat was hung from top, so could be drawn up by withdrawing from a corner, or folding bottom edge upward. The soft-woven mat was a robust-weave similar to the floor spreads, and did not allow any light, in a closed position.

Roll up cover for opening

Roll up cover for opening

Curtains of lighter fabrics material draped on a stick or taut rope provided a functional option to otherwise either open or shut opening system. Curtains have been traditionally mounted on rounded wood stick or metal rods with side brackets. Hanging was through vertical leather or inter-woven stripes seamed in the body of the curtain or over stitched as hanging loops.

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For very long or heavy curtains, the straps were extended to the bottom edge of the curtain. The extended straps were covered either by a second layer of fabric or through pleating. The inner layer of fabric was thinner (sheer material like silk) and fluffed, or velvet like flocculated fabric providing simultaneously a glossy and dull interior surface. Outer fabrics were stronger but of a simple weave or decorative jacquard weave.

Over the wall mounting with pelmet

Over the wall mounting with pelmet

It was possible to accommodate a hanging rod within the wall thickness, but this gave dominance to the opening’s ‘surround’. During mediaeval and renaissance periods walls were comparatively thinner and internally fully panelled, which did not accommodate the hanging mechanism within the thickness or body-depth of the walls. Hanging rods were required to be mounted over the walls, now encased within heavy cornices, or head level bands (pelmets).

Maria Anna of Austria praying - heavy drapery

Maria Anna of Austria praying – heavy drapery

Good quality production of lace and tapestries encouraged curtains with decorative borders. Borders in a curtain occurred not only at the edges and seams but were extended as drapes.

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A fringed valance, cascades, festoons, ruffled trims were used in addition to many elaborate styles of covering the pelmet sections. Curtains began to be of very thin fabric allowing heavier pleating. Sheer (or see-through fabrics) curtains allowed passage of light, but more importantly occluded the manufacturing defects and rings in the then available ‘flattened disc or cylinder ‘clear glass’.

Meister von San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna

Byzantine curtains in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo,

Tapestry or velvets like material were used as gathered or partly compressed form as the over-curtain (draperies). These were also mounted over very thin translucent (sheer) material for under-curtaining.

Under and Over curtaining

Under and Over curtaining

When large sized distortions free clear, glasses were available, the rectilinear divisioned sash windows were replaced by large glass face windows. The curtain styling now became much simpler, dependent more on the quality of light permeating through a textured fabric and the mode of pleating. Curtains over clear glass windows were designed in consideration of colour seen from exterior as well as interior side. Heavy curtains of old times made a room acoustically very quite, compared with the thin body modern curtains.

Cafe curtains on Russian Train

Cafe curtains on Russian Train

Curtains are mainly used in places of residences and commercial offices. In trade and commerce establishments, the curtains at the street are entirely of different nature. Café curtains are double curtains, where the bottom one is hung by strapping. Parlour curtains are hung on the lower half of the opening. Roll curtains fold or roll upwards. The bulk of folded or rolled-portion, limits the height of a curtain and torque or twist in the rolling mechanism governs the width of a curtain.

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