Post 199 —by Gautam Shah



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


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.


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.


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.





Post    by Gautam Shah



Looking out of Temple Door > Pixabay image by fr_golay


In all climates, geographic locations and cultures, a door is a major, preferred and often the only source of illumination, compared to a window or other openings. The degree of shutter being opened or closed provides easiest control over both the level and direction of illumination. Besides this, the door shutters, in the form of lattice, glazing, louvres, windowing, etc., provide more and easily manoeuvrable options for illumination control. The form and scale of the door such as tall, wide, large, small, flush or deep set, etc. offer other means of administering the illumination.



Control of illumination through a door is availed of:

1 by adjusting the size and form of the gap on opening the door shutter,

2 by providing lattice or glazing within the main shutter or by providing additional shutters for such options,

3 by increasing or decreasing the depth of the door and by shaping the sides of the opening (such as chamfer corners or splaying),

4 by defining the exterior and interior surroundings and base level near the door (the colour, texture, angle and distance of near by elements)

5 by selecting the orientation of the door opening,

6 by scheduling and siting of appropriate activities in or out of the door surroundings.



Flickr Image by David Masters

External Door

An external door of an enclosed space is very relevant for illumination and ventilation. The illumination is substantially determined by the Sky Component or SC, which checks the light reflected from the sky directly into a room. Any overhang or side projection reduces the sky component. The other major factor is the Externally Reflected Component or ERC, which depends on the quality of surface (texture), colour and reflectivity of the foreground of a door and other side areas (such as side walls). The third important factor is the Internally Reflected Component or IRC. It consists of light reflected from the internal surfaces of the room. Adjustment of IRC is very helpful in controlling the glare through the open door (Glare is the high difference of light between the opening and its surrounding surfaces).



Doors at the back of INFOSYS Institute, Mysore, India > Wikipedia image by Prateek Karandikar

The Internal Door is not very useful for illumination, unless the other side of the interior door (of room, passage, etc.) can contribute some reflected illumination. Such ‘borrowed’ illumination may be sufficient for ‘passive’ activities or ‘less-used’ areas like stairs, passageways, etc. However, in very warm climates and coastal areas like the Mediterranean or Kerala, where external brightness is very high, an external door brings in radiant heat along with light. This is controlled by placing doors in verandahs or with deep awnings. Doors with louvres are widely used in Mediterranean climates to reduce the brightness and glare. Deep-set doors are also created by placing doors on the inner edge of a thick wall (where possible) or by creating deep portals.

Illumination has a direct bearing on the door orientation. The main doors of early Egyptian buildings were East facing and the Sun god was revered. The East and West have been prime directions for illumination in many historic places of worship. With the ascent of the clear storey openings or entire glass curtain walls the importance of a door as the chief illumination element has reduced.

Illumination and the size of a door have a direct relationship. A taller door is more effective then a wider door in illuminating deep interiors. Monumental buildings have tall doors not just for architectural grandeur but its was the upper section of a tall door provided the deep illumination during a crowded ceremonial function. In Egyptian temples the upper section of the door was supposed to bring in the Sun god with the first rays of rising sun. The tall door was unmanageable for shutter mechanisms and useless as a passage. The upper section was either left without a shutter or latticed to form a ‘transom’. It was more practicable to leave a transom or a rose window than load a wall over the door lintel.

The illumination through a door has also been enhanced by providing side lites or side-lights and within the door lattices. Panel doors of Greek buildings were partly latticed in the upper sections, or had additional latticed shutters. Side lights or side windows increase the perceptive width of the opening, decrease the size of the shutter and reduce the structural span of the lintel.

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