OPENINGS through AGES

Post 693 –by Gautam Shah

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Openings have been expressions of whatever was happening inside, and also as exclusive exterior statements.

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ROMANESQUE windows were overshadowed by colonnades and piers, but the adjacent areas became very articulated. Here jambs or sides were formed with a series of receding moulded planes. The arch above also had the receding concentric rings, following the lines of the recesses of jambs below. The Romanesque fluted pier first replaced the Greek-Roman columns, and later the capitals and entablatures. Two or three stormed -triforium clerestories were created to lit up the interior, manage the semicircular openings. Several windows with semicircular heads were sometimes grouped together and enclosed in a larger arch. Windows often head a central support element in the form of a column or a pier. A wheel-shaped window, placed over the main West door later became the Rose-window.

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EARLY CHRISTIAN PERIOD, windows were small in proportion to the entire mass of the facade. The size was accentuated with chamferred sides and sills but the basic opening gap was functionally bare minimum. It provided adequate light, but not the heat gain that was required in North European climates. Windows gradually began to fill the Romanesque semicircular arched openings. Internally the structure was framed. Externally the walls began to carry loads at the base points of arches. Semi circular arches began to be replaced by pointed arches. These reduced the span of opening, and reduced the load on the pier. Closely spaced light piers and pointed arches created an interior space that was tall and vertical.

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Roman circular arch was well a respected architectural element. Traditional Christians would not change it to anything else. But Goths came to dominate large territories across Europe. They were perceived to be marauders and lacking any thing ‘decent’. Goths never accepted Roman manners or architecture but began to adopt Moorish technology and simple cultural values and artistic customs. Most important, they adopted a simplistic form of Christianity, the Arianism, allowing birth of Gothic. Gothic was then perceived as a derisive term for the ‘uncivilized and destructive lifestyle’ of Goths.

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GOTHIC STRUCTURES carried thrusts to the piers through the buttresses, virtually eliminating the wall. Windows occupied all the space freed by walls. To make windows stable against wind pressure and support, the leaded glass panes of large windows had sub frames of transoms and mullions. Tracery was used to mould the rectilinear character of the sub frames. By varying the pitch of the pointed arch, unlike semicircular arched openings, it was possible to have windows of different widths for the same floor height. Window tracery, was a later invention of the Gothic period. The stained glass replaced the traditional wall treatments like mosaic or paintings in oil or stucco. Building materials like marble were exposed for their grain.

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Lantern church’ with perpendicular windows rising from floor to vault, was not a suitable style for non church buildings like palaces, colleges, etc. Windows were also not required to be as large in sunny parts of Europe like Spain and Italy.

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This led to REVIVAL OF ROMAN STYLE wall with punctured windows. Windows were once again square headed, comparatively small, multi-functional, eye levelled and easy to merge into variety of interior treatments. These windows were abutted with pilasters, half columns and also by offset arcade of full columns.

church_columnar_italy_viterbo_stone_wood_blanket_dom-489532In Spanish architecture of LATE GOTHIC ERA AND EARLY RENAISSANCE, the window and its appended decorative elements created a composite facade element. In Italian Renaissance the facade was like an interwoven fabric spread all over (Doges palace, Venice) and terminating at a very strongly articulated architectural element. In horizontal directions these elements were eaves, sills, pediments, etc. in vertical direction the pilaster, column, doorway etc. terminated the flow. Windows were adorned with balustrades, and galleries. Buildings were topped with statues, lanterns, domes, drums, accentuating the vertical lines of the window opening. The remaining surface of the wall was intensely emphasized through rusticated masonry or moulded bands. In other European locations (Germany) the window composition was repeated to create a strong linear facade. Corner window and Oriel were used.

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In ITALIAN RENAISSANCE the facade was like an interwoven fabric spread all over (Doges palace, Venice) and terminating at a very strongly articulated architectural element. In horizontal directions these elements were eaves, sills, pediments, etc. in vertical direction the pilaster, column, doorway etc. terminated the flow. Windows were adorned with balustrades, and galleries. Buildings were topped with statues, lanterns, domes, drums, accentuating the vertical lines of the window opening.

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Kennel Old Town Dresden Baroque

BAROQUE ARCHITECTURE which emerged in the later part of Renaissance, many conventions were removed. Wall surfaces instead of being linear now began to be curved and undulating. Window openings were often oval, circular but deeply recessed. Vertically sliding windows or sash windows were favoured for its ease of opening, controlled ventilation. Sash windows had rectilinear subdivisions, filled with better quality see through clear water-white glass. Sash windows were painted white, and placed in brick masonry work (English later Renaissance).

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In early part of RENAISSANCE the exteriors truthfully reflected the interior space modules, but very rarely the function. The facade was a mask. The make-believe continued till it was despised as vulgar by the POST INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION PERIOD.Tadao Ando - Water Temple 水御堂 40

 

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PROJECTED OPENINGS in BUILDINGS

Post 679 –by Gautam Shah

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Openings often transgress the nominal edge of the architectural entity. Such outward, and occasionally the inward push occurs on the wall faces, roofs, corners and floors. Outward pushes mainly add to the floor spread. But it also facilitates the side view and breeze from the street. It also offers greater opening size. Outward push of a building element is used to architecturally undulate the surface by projection and its deep shadows. Outward push from the roof has formed interesting silhouettes by varying the skyline. Outward transgressions have occurred in occupy-able buildings like homes, palaces and also in other structures such as fort-walls, gates, estate walls, barricades etc. Inward pushes like chowks or cutouts are basically climatic relievers. But these also serve as space dividers, isolators and privacy-security elements.

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OUTWARD TRANSGRESSIONS: Examples of wall face transgressions are: Oriel, Bay-window, Bow-window, Zarokha and Mashrabiya.

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ORIEL WINDOWS are polygonal bay windows, but with a larger perimeter and so allow wider view of the outside. Oriel windows are usually placed on the upper floors of the building, but siting on ground floors is common. The windows as a projected bay is supported off the base-wall by column, piers, corbels or brackets.

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The word oriel is derived from Anglo-Norman oriell and post-classical Latin oriolum, both meaning gallery or porch, perhaps from classical Latin aulaeum =curtain. Oriels developed in the 15th C, when under the Tudor kings. Merchants and artisans, generally living over the shop in a narrow and tightly-packed town houses, added space by building oriel encroachments. This often resulted in extremely dark streets. Oriel windows were also placed over gateways or entrances to manor houses and public buildings. Oriel windows once again became popular during the revival of Tudor style in the 19th and early 20th C.

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BAY WINDOW forms a projected bay or bow like polygonal shape. Bay windows became popular with Victorian architecture (1870’s). A typical bay window consists of three windows, the middle unit is parallel to the house, and adjoining two units are set at 30 to 45 degree angles. There are three basic types of bay windows. In full bay windows the opening stretches from floor to ceiling level to create a nook in a room. In half or part bay window, the window starts at seat or nominal sill level and reaches head height level or full ceiling level. In the third version the bay is more of a flower box projecting out.

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BOW WINDOWS are curved or polygonal bay windows. Unlike the bay windows, there is no middle window unit, parallel to the room. Instead several small width window units (fixed and shuttered) are joined to form a bow shape. Bow windows first appeared in the 18th C in England, and in the Federal period in the USA. Bow windows are also called compass window and radial bay windows.

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ZAROKHA originated from the Gokh or Gavaksh (Sanskrit), a form of articulated wall niche for storage. It became more of a projection with a seat or a window form. A Zarokha or Baithak (seat) is a raised platform from the room floor. Zarokha is often partly ow wholly latticed. The Zarokha as an ornamental element was part of the architectural composition. In tropical architecture Zarokha compensated the need for an intermediate element like a verandah. The Zarokha and the derivative window forms, as Chhatri (belfry or umbrella), were further refined as pavilions and other roof level facilities.

Adalaj Gujarat India StepWell Zarokha

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'M2 Mashrabiya'_at_Al-Sadat_house_in_Cairo

MASHRABIYA is a projected window on upper floors, in buildings mainly in the urban setting. Mashrabiya is used in houses and palaces although sometimes in public buildings such as hospitals, inns, schools and government buildings. It is commonly placed on the street side, but occasionally on the internal courtyard ‘sahn’ side. Mashrabiya windows are presumed to have evolved during 12th C in Baghdad. Iraq and Egypt are two countries where many examples survive. Mashrabiyas are enclosed with carved wood latticework. Mashrabiya has been used for correcting the shape of upper floor front rooms. The word Mashrabiya has varied origins. It denotes drinking or absorbing. The name perhaps has derived from a wood lattice enclosed shelf located near a window to cool the pots of drinking water. Mashrabiya also has originated from verb Ashrafa =to overlook, ignore or to observe.

Architecture Glass Bay Window About Building

4775158313_71d4c3be87_zProjecting an opening has taken many different forms where glass is used as a supporting or structural entity. It counters the perception that structural entities are nominally opaque. Projected openings have had opaque floors and now replaced with glass. Original intention of projected openings system for stretched or unlimited view is now being re-purposed.

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MASHRABIYA -an opening system

Post 655 -by Gautam Shah

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Mashrabiya an extensive opening system, was very common feature of mid East or Arab architecture. Mashrabiyas were placed on upper floors of urban houses usually on street faces, but occasionally on the internal courtyard sahn side. Such openings were also used in palaces, public buildings such as hospitals, inns, schools and government buildings, but rarely seen in rural areas. Mashrabiya in farm houses and for out of the town buildings are more open, with reduced amounts of lattice work and without the lining of glass.

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Mashrabiya openings are presumed to have formed during 12th C in Baghdad. Iraq and Egypt are two countries where many examples survive. These are more common in Eastern (mashriq) parts of the Arab world, then the Western (maghrib) parts. Basra is often called the city with Mashrabiyas. Such openings were later introduced in France from their colonial sources, and called Moucharabieh.

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The word Mashrabiya has varied origins. It denotes drinking or absorbing. The name perhaps has derived from a wood lattice enclosed shelf located near or against a window to cool the drinking water pots. The shelf evolved as a full enclosure to cover an entire wall of the room. Mashrabiya also has originated from verb Ashrafa =to overlook, ignore or to observe.

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Mashrabiyas have carved wood latticework and often stained glass. Lattice designs differ from region to region. The latticework, though commonly formed of elements of a lathe carved long wood sections, called bobbins. Lower sections of the opening are opaque, or with denser lattice work. The smaller openings in the lower section obscured vision from outside, and reduce the air draft. Larger openings in the upper parts allow better air draft and illumination. Mid part of the Mashrabiya is provided with sliding or side-hung shutters. Such clear gaps were used for drawing up the purchases from street vendors. Sections of Mashrabiyas are also lined with coloured or stained glass to form an enclosed balcony, and an adjunct space to the room.

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Mashrabiya adds space to rooms on the upper floors without increasing the foot print area of the building. These have also been used for correcting the shape of upper floor front room. Mashrabiya allows air from three sides to enter, even if the drought outside was parallel to the house facade. Mashrabiyas also provide shade for the ground floor openings. As a projected opening system, it offers a longer sideways view in a narrow street.

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Mashrabiya work as an independent enclosed balcony or as a space attached to a room. Egyptian Mashrabiyas project out at a slightly raised level, providing for a Dakkah. A Dakkah is also a masonry platform attached to the front part of a house, covered with a rug. It is used for informal talk and tea in Arab rural areas. A Dakkah is an arrangement similar to Ota or Otla in a traditional Indian house.

Shanshil Iraq

Shanashil is net or wood screen-covered verandah or porch over looking a street or garden. The meaning of Shanashil is ‘the hanging silk’. First Shanashil was found in 1800s Iraqi houses of Basra and Baghdad. Shanashil and Mashrabiya have little difference except chiefly the depth aspect. Shanashils are covered galleries so have greater depth compared to Mashrabiya, and former ones are in level with the interior floor.

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There are several equivalent forms of openings. Oriel and bay windows have been used to enlarge the room space and receive more light and from many directions. Similarly Indian projected opening systems Zarokhas have been built in wood and stone with open and lattice covered form like Mashrabiya. Both reduce the glare, provide privacy and offer extended space. All these forms transgress outward and undulate the exterior surface. A caboose is an extended opening used in Automobiles and railway carriages for gaining side-way view of the street or estate. This has, though smaller size of width and projected depth. A caboose also occurs as a projected niche.

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MICRO VENTILATION in Buildings

Post 588 by Gautam Shah

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Micro ventilation is a very important passive method of adjusting heat and moisture for Hot-arid and Hot-humid climates. It is based on three factors: Air movements due to the differing pressures outside the building, like windward and wind-off sides. Buoyancy forces that results from temperature across the buildings interior and exteriors, and Pattern of circumstantial and designed apertures in the building shell. Micro ventilation relies more on external or macro conditions of the locality, but needs appropriate interior design.

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Micro ventilated Traditional Konkan (Hot-arid) region houses, India Wikipedia image by PP Yoonus

Micro ventilation ensures that AIR enters or leaves a space through cracks, crevices, gaps or apertures, diluting the interior contaminants and adjusting the temperature and moisture. It is one of the easiest and consistent ways of managing comfort in enclosed and semi-open spaces. Micro ventilation systems are of vernacular design and time-tested solutions that have come down from one generation to another.

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Entry and exit of air occur due to Differential Pressures along a point to point paths of air movement. The operative pressure is governed by both, the size and shape of the buildings layout scheme and individual characteristics of the building such as shape, size, height etc. Air movement occurs as a Buoyant Force due to the temperature difference across buildings’ interior and exteriors in general, and across the openings in particular. The air pressure is also affected by temperature of surfaces and surroundings, near the windward and wind-off sides. In a building micro openings are, circumstantial and designed. The micro openings are very much smaller in size in comparison to buildings’ formal openings like doors, windows, gaps etc. Micro openings yet have a characteristic size, shape, passage section, adjunct elements on internal and external faces, and their closeness to the location of need (for ventilation). The circulation or movement of air is affected, by the space profile (section), the task intensive volume and its datum, levels of ventilation (import-export) nodes, the hindrance by elements such as size and shape of external overhangs, the sill depth and its profile shape.

Roof Ventilator

Roof Vents

Micro ventilation operates as outside air has lesser moisture (except during actual raining conditions) then indoor air, so any level of ventilation, dilutes the interior humidity level and adds to the comfort.

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Grass-thatched roof > Wikipedia image by MBAGroup6

Micro openings are circumstantial and designed, as casual parts of the buildings’ structure, components and systems (including openings), or formal or passive elements. But broadly these can be classified by their locations. Movement of air also encourages evaporation and increases cooling in the interior space. In dry arid climates smaller and deep-set openings create a strongly directional air movement allowing dwellers to locate their activities suitably. Deep-set openings also increase absorption of heat in the mass of the built-form or add simple cooling devices such as water wetted grass mats or fountains.

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ROOF RELATED GAPS are such as in the thatched and country tile roofs, loosely laid roofs of slates, stone sheets. Formal devices include vents such as lattices, chutes, hoppers, etc.

GAPS IN UPPER SECTION OF WALLS are such as the unpacked ends of corrugated roofing sheets or terracotta tiles, ends of purlins and trusses when not sealed, and eyelets or oculi like holes in gables.

OTHER GAPS are circumstantial that exist in and around openings such as doors and windows, as loose joinery, leaky fitments, ajar shutters, door bottom space, peepholes, openings without shutters (gaps), latticed constructions such as of woven mats, fabrics, or louvered openings, crack or fissures in building elements, expansion joints, unsealed joints, etc.

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Cadjan House Myanmar > Wikipedia image by Michael Coghlan Adelaide, Australia

Micro ventilation requirements inside a building vary depending on the climate, season of the year, use of the space, tasks, work-schedules, crowding in the space and presence of heat evolving means (hearths, machines, etc.) The ventilation requirements also depend on the amenities used for conducting the tasks.

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Krishnapuram Palace Kerala India > Wikipedia image by Appusviews at ml.wikipedia

In many old buildings the micro ventilation system is almost sufficient for dilution of fouled air. Micro ventilation of the building is further exploited by life style settings attuned to the air flow movement paths, pressure gradients and qualitative variations at different locations and time schedules. Task activities are continually shifted around to match the seasonal and diurnal variations.

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MASKING of OPENING PART – III – FRAMING

Post 575by Gautam Shah

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Masking is an overlay on an opening such as a window, door or gap. The overlay could be an additional system, opportunistic exploitation of the surroundings, or an arrangement for doctoring the perception. There is an attempt to change the quality of view, such as increasing or decreasing the clarity of view; add directional emphasis, such as horizontal, vertical or some other direction and alter the proportion and scale of the view; to divide the view into smaller geometric or floral sections and to camouflage or conceal the opening itself, the shape, location or purpose.

Framed View

Framed View through Opening > Pixabay image

Masking of openings happens over the gap portion, but Framing of openings occurs on surrounding portions of the gap. Masking and framing often serve similar purposes, which are of camouflaging the shape of the opening. Shape modulation also affects the size perception. Openings gain a tectonic meaning in consonance with the site, the environment, people and other building elements. Primary framing takes place, on how an opening is composed within a barrier system.

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Door Framing II nd Floor Balcony at Palace of Raio > Baroque era Residence at Braga, Portugal > Wikipedia image by Sara silva

Technologically shutters of doors and windows, pivoted or hinged, have been square edged. This in turn forced the shape of openings to be square edged. Doors, windows and gaps, till about pre-gothic period were overawed by the powerful geometry of the squared edges. The only option was to taper the faces of sides and bottom sill. Lintel bottom remained flat, being structurally inviolable. Occasionally stepped or layered lintels were used.

Gothic Tracery

Gothic window tracery St Mary Church, Snettisham, Norfolk, England > Flickr image by Spencer Means

Square lintels or the round arch-vault, was a necessity for massive Romanesque structures. Gothic period, however, saw some degree of liberation from the square cornered rounded arched openings, mainly due to the thinner walls and use of pointed arch. But this advent was accompanied by shutter-less fixed glass openings. The shuttered opening like doors, however continued to have squared lintel heads, framing and shutters.

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Serrated door Framing Amiens Cathedral > Wikipedia image by Mattana

The square edge, for the first time was consciously and successfully dissolved during the Rococo period. The Rococo period had two important facets: Motifs over interior face of openings in the form of painted stucco work, and architectonic elements and sculptures over the exterior face of the opening. This integration of elements over the openings, however, never transgressed the square edges of the frame or shutter. It had to wait till Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods when few adventuresome breached the omnipresent straight lines of the openings.

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Masking and Framing of Door at Art Nouveau Building from architect Jules Lavirotte Paris France Sculptures by Jean Francois Larrive 1875-1928 > Wikipedia image by Pline

The framing transformations first occurred in the print media, artwork and jewellery items like photo-pendants. Photo and painting frames continued with the squared edges on the inner face. These were of Two types: Tapered inward or outward. Over the period all forms of frames drew inspiration from each other.

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Photo Frame 18 C > Wikipedia image by FA2010

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Photo Frame 18 C France Wikipedia image by FA2010

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Flickr image by Plum leaves

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Photo image Florence > Wikipedia image by FA2010

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Door Frame emulating the Photo Frame 18th C Venice > Wikipedia image by Hiart

Few Art Nouveau experiments altered the door frame and shutters with floral ingress. These experiments saw 3D modulation and integration of the architectonic elements along with masking and framing appendages. These were craft and technology based multi-material solutions devised along with the form of the building -in a way an integrated architectural resolution.

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Bloomsbury Tavern Night view of windows > Flickr image by Eric Huybrechts

Openings have a dual personality, of the inside and outside, and both have been differently treated for functional, technical and scaling reasons. The framing references are different for both. On the interior face great many masking elements including soft furnishings are available to condition the view outward. The options on outer face are fewer, but major one is the day time perception of the opening, in complete contrast to inside illumination at night time.

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New York Times Building NYC Night time > Wikipedia image by Jleon (talk)

The masking of view out or inward, is done through real or make-believe depths formed by repetition of series of identical, receding or increasing frames. Such multiple frames occur in colonnades, corridors, passages, avenues and walkways.

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Corridors of Miranda House Delhi. Repeat elements framing the view >Wikipedia image by Dell335

Framing can provide its own third dimension, or the depth aspect to the opening. The depth aspect was primarily used for inducing a perspective view. Framing took advantage of depth of the massive structure, such as in Romanesque period. The sides, top and bottom edges of the openings, on both the inside and outside faces, were chamfered or cut square. The additional surfaces of intrados and extrados were articulated to not only enhance the perceptible extent of the opening, but treated with sculptural texture for adding to the extent of a visual surface. Side surfaces of the openings created a frame within frame.

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Pediment over openings Siracusa Cathedral Sicily Italy > Wikipedia image by pjt56—

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LEGENDS of OPENINGS – 5

Post 523 by Gautam Shah

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Doors windows, and gaps are elements of human abode in physical and metaphysical sense of living. Adage, Cliche, Proverbs, Metaphors, Epigram, Epithet Idioms, and Folklore are not simply metaphoric means of communication, but dramatize our perception of both, the form and function. Just as an opening represents duality, the experiences are also juxtaposed. We live in world cultural and personal relevance of things. We comprehend the world through such translations then their direct exposure.

Interior of one of the dwellings at the w:Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico, USA Wikipedia image

Building elements like walls, columns, roofs etc. are static, and so have some degree of certainty. But doors (and openings like gaps and windows) are points of transition, and have some degree of uncertainty. The uncertainty about the door is personal, due to the dilemma to entry or exit. Windows and doors are cut into a wall, but it is their emptiness that makes the windows and doors useful” -Lao Tzu.

Srirangam Jambukeshwara Temple India Wikipedia image by Author Hari Prasad Nadig

Windows have been used for windowing (throwing away the adversaries, so that they have no chance of returning alive), and so have certainty. Doors are just for ignoramus entry or exit, a non harming and temporary situation, but need not deter any smart aleck. A door forces one to be decisive, because one must never stay put in the door itself, trouble lurks from both directions. Seating on a door threshold is considered inauspicious. ‘The doorstep is the highest of all mountains’. The bride is carried across it, because she must not be allowed to have any second thoughts.

Entrance to Monastery 1, Ratnagiri, Jajpur, Orissa, India Author Tessarman

Doors, windows and gaps are meaningless without the walls. The irresolute exit from an opening takes one to a very wild ground, but a decisive one that offers a bridgehead of hope. Such a bridgehead leads to a narrow passage with dangers of falling off it. It rarely offers option of backtracking to the reality of home. ‘One can tell the truth by standing against the door of room’, and still escape to save own-self. The door also takes one out to exploration of an illusive opportunity or intangible entity. It is said ‘look left and right before knocking on a door’, and ‘pause for moment after entering a door’. The entry through a door can be to a world of treachery and deceit, so ‘trade the tread carefully’.

Upload Wikipedia image by Author Selena N. B. H. from Fayetteville, USA

Insiders know that misfortune only come in when the door is open. ‘Even the luck stops at the door, and inquires whether prudence is within’. ‘If fortune is due, it will not break the roof or wall to arrive’. What you can inquire at a window cannot be sought at the door. It is at the door the alienation begins to manifest. When a ‘door fails to open to your knock, consider your reputation’. The key or permission to enter a door or a domain is given to a known person. To enter a premise, one needs to be consecrated by a person of authority, which means the visitor agrees to abide by the rules that prevail within. When the door was opened from within, it had the potential to lead someplace quite different.” -Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

Traveler at the cottage door by Artist Isaac van Ostade (1621–1649) Wikipedia image

Gaps in a maze can lead you from one to another in perpetuity, and so must be marked on both the faces. This is also true of internal doors, one never know, whether one is entering or leaving.

southernmost door to the dining room at the Springwood estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Wikipedia-Flickr image by Tim Evanson

Mystically, an open door represents good fortune, a new opening in life, or a desire to open up the feelings. A revolving door means a monotonous period ahead and a trap door predicts shocking news. A door knob means unexpected good luck, and hinges bring family problems. A locked door shows missed opportunities, denial of opportunities, or can represent ‘need to close the door over the past’.

Yueh Hai Ching Temple Wikipedia image by Author Terence Ong

A door opening outward may show that one needs to be more accessible to others. However, an inward opening door may represent the desire for inner exploration and self-discovery. For the Japanese ‘the 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’. A front door is a normal entrance, and a back door a nominal one. A house with one door is a preferred abode. Evil spirits enter the house from a back door.

Naguleswaram entrance, Jaffna, Sri Lanka Wiki-Flickr image by Author Indi Samarajiva

‘He who is outside the door has already a good part of his journey behind him. A person outside the door is more courageous than the one on inside, but we trust the later, over the former’.

“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.” Aldus Huxley, The Doors of Perception.

ShaniwarWada Hall Pune India Wikipedia image by Author Sivaraj D

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MASKING of OPENINGS Part – II

Post 520  by Gautam Shah

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Openings are masked, framed juxtaposed, positioned, arrayed, disguised and concealed to add specific functionality. At practical level a layer directly alters the quality of the opening, but at metaphoric level it changes the meaning of the opening. The abstract modifiers include the vista effects of the openings.

Lattice mask over opening >> Lavatory at Seonamsa is a Korean Seonam Buddhist temple on the eastern slope at the west end of Mount Jogye > Wikipedia image by Author Steve46814

Openings masked by Cement concrete Lattice > High Court Building Chandigadh India by Le Corbusier Wikipedia image by Author Sanyam Bahga

Openings are masked to doctor the view to the outside or inside. It could be as an overlay to change the quality of view, to shape the view to horizontal, vertical or some other emphasis, to proportion and scale the view, to divide the view into smaller sections and to occlude or filter the view. Openings are masked to regulate the transitions occurring through it of people, goods, air, moisture, illumination, noise, etc. Openings are masked to adjust their dissimilar colour, texture, etc. from surrounding elements.

Gothic window tracery, the Church of St Mary, Snettisham, Norfolk, England FLICKR image by Spencer Means

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Openings are ‘masked’ through means of disguise for altering or concealing their true form, function and location. Masking for styling with forms, patterns or motifs is common in articulated architectures. Openings are potential points of unauthorized entry-exit and so need to be masked with electronic surveillance. ‘Masking of opening’ is also done by contextual placement of architectural and other elements. These elements physically and metaphorically act as a reference to denote not only the holistic perception of the opening, but transitions through the openings.

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Openings have a dual personality of inside and outside phase, and nominal masking can also occur on one or both the phases. Masking systems, however, do take advantage of the third dimension, or the depth aspect of the openings. The depth aspect induces a perspective view, where the sides are also visible, adding to the extent of a visual surface, and creating a frame within frame view. This effect is enhanced by chamferring the sides and top-bottom. The chamferring increases the view of exterior from inside, and if on inside face it adds to perceptual illumination.

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Opening masking systems are used to frame and overlay the view. Traceries have been used in Gothic windows. Torans have been used in Indian doors. Grills are used to impose patterns on the view. Translucent curtains are used to tone the level of brightness. In future, perhaps a video screen will not only project the external view, but suitably change the hue and tone quality. Modern surveillance tools are intervening controllers, but could also be made energy adding-subtracting devices to modify the environment.

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The openings gain a tectonic meaning by their size, relative proportion to surrounding architectural features, colour, texture, shadows, contrasts, manners of arraying, repeated motifs or features, placement or siting, position (horizontal-vertical) and location. As an architectural composition the opening flourishes in consonance with the site, the environment, people and other building elements. Somewhere the differentiated meaning of outside versus inside begins to dissolve through visual and other perceptual reflections. The physical means of masking are giving way to energy induced effects.

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