Post 648 -Gautam Shah


Passive ventilation sustains good quality of air in interior spaces. It works on circulation or movement of air without the use of power utilities. It relies on principals of source management and dilution, rather than any filtration. Passive ventilation is substantially based on the quality of built-form and to a smaller extent on immediate surroundings. It is a very important method of adjusting heat and moisture in Hot-arid and Hot-humid climates. The quality of air is determined by temperature, moisture content, presence and proportion of ‘other’ gases and airborne particulate matter. The quality of air has important bearing on our body. A body may endure or adopt to certain abnormal conditions for a period of time but there may occur side effects. The side effects may be realized in a different form and at a different time.


Passive ventilation relies, as much on external or macro conditions, as the interior spatial lay. It is based on three factors:

  1. Air movements due to the differing pressures and temperatures and the buoyancy forces that result across a building and its surroundings,
  2. Location of tasks and activities that support or hinder such patterns of air movements, circumstantial and designed apertures in the building shell.
  3. Factors that define the ventilation in a building are, space-profile (section), base levels of inward-outward nodes of ventilation, nature of surroundings and neighbourhood, sill level, depth and its profile-shape, task-intensive operative plane and its volume, and constraints enforced by elements such as size and shape of external overhangs.


Passive ventilation occurs with Two major operants.

Differential air pressures are formed by wind movements in the immediacy of the building, the pattern and size of the buildings scheme and individual components of the building. Air movement also occur as a buoyancy effect caused by the temperatures of surfaces and surroundings near the wind-ward and wind-off sides. Air pressure difference occurs, across buildings’ interiors and exteriors, across the openings and temperature of surfaces and surroundings, near the windward and wind-off sides. Entry and exit point for air, though continually shift around due to the changes in pressures.

Desert City Oasis Town Ait Ben Haddou Oasis

Temperature differential depends on the direction and inclination of sun, climate, seasons of the year, local massing of the shadows, surface materials, vegetation, water bodies, and presence of heat evolving entities. Dark surfaces and thin body objects warm up very fast and begin to radiate the heat, creating local heat related buoyancy in air.


Ventilation requirements vary depending on whether one wants to gain or lose heat, add or subtract moisture, dilute or remove ‘other’ gases and airborne particulate matter contaminants. Ventilation needs change depending on, distance of space occupation from the inlet-outlet for air, functional use of space, types of tasks, work-schedules, crowding in the space and presence of heat evolving means (hearths, machines, etc.). One important aspect is the feeling of air movement near-over the body. It depends on several factors such as air velocity, fluctuations in air velocity, temperature of air, and personal factors like overall thermal sensation and activity level. Even for the same person, sensitivity to air movement may change from day to day.

635px-Wall_Decoration_at_Kesava_Temple_in_Somanathapura_retouchedDraughts (Draft) are very low velocity air movements. These are not always perceptible, as they do not cause any sensation of pain or pressure on skin. Draughts are more felt due to air pressure thresholds near cracks and such leakage points in small and enclosed spaces. Draughts, however, help in convective heat exchange, evaporation and dilution of pollutants in air. Draughts cause localized cooling or heating of sensitive organs of our body.

Breeze or low to medium velocity air movements generally affect only local areas. Breeze does not let airborne particulate matter to settle down. Skin sensation can be avoided by appropriate screening and deflection of the breeze. Since breeze causes effective pressure on skin, with very immediate and very perceptible change sensation.

Winds are high air velocity movements of air affecting larger regions. Winds raise particulate matter in the air, cause rapid change in level of humidity and often cause discomfort due to high pressure sensation on the skin.

1 Stone_Roofing_House_-_Palchan_-_Kullu_2014-05-10_2507

In hot and cold both types of climates people often close all the openings to reduce the air movements and thereby control the convective heat gain or loss. Turbulent air velocity is less comfortable than a Laminar air velocity. Turbulent air movement achieves a better mix of air whereas laminar helps in greater displacement of air mass. This is the reason why in hot arid climates small size openings are used to create turbulence or a viscous flow, and in hot humid climates the body level openings of horizontal nature create a laminar flow to displace the humidity.


Passive ventilation occurs through macro and micro openings. Macro or formal openings (doors, windows, gaps etc.) are designed with a characteristic size, shape, passage section, adjunct elements on internal and external faces, and occur close to the location of need (for ventilation). Micro openings are circumstantial, and are much smaller in size like cracks, crevices, gaps or apertures. Micro openings offer a passive and consistent ways of managing comfort in enclosed and semi-open spaces. These manifest as intentional gaps, unplanned crevices and cracks of structural stresses. Both, macro and micro openings can be broadly be classified by their locations.


  • Roof level openings are such as in the thatched and country tile roofs, loosely laid roof slates, stone sheets, or intentionally placed micro passive vents such as lattices, chutes, hoppers, etc.
  • Upper section openings in walls are such as the unpacked ends of corrugated sheets or roofing tiles, ends of purlins and truss and eyelets or oculi like holes and lites in gables.
  • Other openings manifest as doors, windows, cut-outs, chowks, in joinery, leaky fitments, ajar shutters, door bottom space, peep-holes, latticed constructions such as of woven mats or fabrics, louvered openings, crack or fissures in building elements, expansion joints, unsealed joints, etc.

Movement of air through openings encourages evaporation and increases cooling in the interior space. In dry arid climates dwellers locate their activities in the strongly directional air movement formed by small and deep-set openings. Deep-set openings also increase absorption of heat in the mass of the structure. Simple passive cooling devices such as water wetted grass mats or fountains help cooling. Outside air has lesser moisture (except during raining conditions) then indoor air, so any level of ventilation, dilutes the interior humidity level and adds to the comfort.

620px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksAir borne particulates arrive from outside sources like heavy vehicular traffic, polluting industry (mines, thermal power plants, mineral grinding plants, in the vicinity, or sand storms, and internal sources like cooking or craft fuels, and processing materials (grinding, spinning-weaving). Outside particulate can be controlled by changing the ventilation gaps to different location or elevation. Filtration screens occupy more then 60% of opening area, and much lesser due to frequent choking. Dynamic screening like water bodies or sprays can be useful, but costly and perhaps beyond the concept of a passive device. Non turbulent wind flow helps in keeping the particulate matter to lower sections.

Moisture control in interior space occurs by dilution, greater air movement and siting management of moisture generating amenities. Isolation of cooking, washing, bathing areas in dwelling is a common practice in hot-humid climates.

Quality of indoor air mainly depends on the external circumstances. The ‘feel-good aspect’ in a tropical climate (hot-arid or hot-humid) zone is not only regulated by the obvious temperature, rates of movement (pressure) and the moisture content, but also by the level of fouling of air. Some experts have claimed that air quality of a room is chiefly determined by its CO2 concentration. In tropical buildings concentration of CO2 and other gases is not a critical factor, as numerous openings and micro gaps remain substantially open. Location of cooking area is a segregated entity or an outdoor activity, and like cold climates no interior fire places.




Post 611 by Gautam Shah



Natural History Museum 1881 London with Cast iron structure > Wikipedia image by DAVID ILIFF Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0


The Industrial age marked rapid changes in materials and technologies. Cast-iron, wrought-iron and mild steel were being produced in quantity, of consistent and reliable quality. Portland Cement was developed in 1824. Steel in new spatial-structural configurations, and as a composite with cement began to replace old techniques of construction. New large span entities like railroads, depots, shopping centres, bridges, warehouses, factories and commercial complexes began to come up using steel-based columns, beams and roofs. These new format structures nearly eliminated the massive masonry walls. Partially or fully framed walls were neo-gothic in character. Buildings could now be deeper and have a wider footprint.


building_fire_escape_staircase_escape_emergency_safety_urban_wall-909361.jpg!dA window tax (during 1696 – 1861, in England) had forced people to wall-up unnecessary windows to save on tax, and also add fictitious windows for the sake of facade composition. During 1850 to 1870 facades of public buildings, of steel and glass began to be wide and tall. Ironically, in spite of the discouragements on taxation (window tax and a heavy excise duty on glass in 1746), this period witnessed some of the most innovative changes in windows’ design. One of the changes was borne out of necessity. Great fire of London, in 1907, forced the authorities to allow use of steel for windows. Wood windows were initially positioned flush with the front face of the building, but regulations asked for setting back them by 4″, from the outer face of masonry.


Walled up windows to save on Windows tax

The glazing panes for windows were now larger, and mullions and transoms thinner. The conspicuous columns and beams began to recede from the face of the building. The shop fronts began to have full size glass. Windows units for domestic as well as commercial spaces now began to be produced in factories, with standardization of sizes, shapes, materials and hardware. The large glass fronted buildings offered daylight illuminated interiors. This occurred parallel to major changes in of quality of fuels for home warming, cooking and lighting. The new architecture offered bright daytime illumination and night time environment free of smoke and soot.


Roof Lights in steam powered Weaving shed Lancashire 1914 > Wikipedia image by Hoskyn

The transition to new age was not very smooth, there was resistance to do away with the time tested styling of windows, and skepticism to accept new things. Both the factors were significant due to the fact that craftsmanship of new building products was not as refined. Industrial products lacked the personalization or exclusivity. At another level the resistance was coming from builders and designers, who found their roles changing with ready to use windows and components.


Industrial period caused the end of the last phase of Revival styles (late 18th C). But Industrial period also saw resistance across the Atlantic. On one side of the Atlantic, in Europe, opponents felt that industrial products are separating human beings from their creativity and individualism. To offset the poor quality of goods, stress was placed on craftsmanship, often with disregard to the cost or affordability. The Arts and Crafts style, also called Aesthetic style, created exquisite and decorated pieces, but these were called as ‘work of a few for the few’. On the other side of the Atlantic, the American Arts & Crafts movement was based on the clarity of form, and materials’ expression through grain pattern, colour and texture. The machines were used for lowering the cost and greater productivity. The US version of movement reinstated the ideal of design as the essential component for all products.


Pennsylvania Station > Wikipedia image

During the Industrial period large scale immigration and resettlement of workers increased the demand for public housing, which was cheap and quick in supplies. Steel rolled sections for doors and windows began to be available. Many new windows’ configurations such as the North light or saw tooth truss lighting, domed and sky lights, port holes were devised. Casement windows with friction hinges and sash windows with spring balances replaced the counter weight system. Windows with dual mechanisms of sliding and folding became popular. Many old opening styles were refurnished with better technologies, typically conservatories, jalousie, bay and bow windows were redefined.


Peters Cartridge factory > Wikipedia image by Samuel W Smith

Openings’ planning attitudes also changed, till now domestic buildings had a main facade treated with a style, whereas all other sides were treated with less expensive and simpler windows. In high density urban areas, high rise buildings were seen from all sides and required equal windows’ treatment on faces. The equalized treatment on all sides ignored the climatic orientation or follow the interior functions. Such universal windows required many appendages or internal treatments.


Limoges France Railway station Art Deco lighting with grisaille and yellow stain > Wikipedia image by TTaylor

In US Southwest a term Mission style was used to describe US versions of Arts and Crafts movement. The local Mission Style mixed the rectilinear forms, with embellishments and Patterns of native America, Spanish and colonial origins. The Art Nouveau style which was concurrent with the Arts & Crafts style used natural forms with curved lines, arranged in asymmetrical forms. Windows were shaped with curvilinear shapes and masking grill to deform their rectangularity.


Gaudi windows > Pixabay image by benedicl




 Post 608 by Gautam Shah



Doors, Gates, Windows, and Gaps express the concept of transition from one state of existence to another. Likewise Passageways, Bridges, Ducts, also serve the chief function of transition, and other functions of openings by means of barricading, demarcating and framing. Some words, such as in and out, from and to, through, etc., denote entry-exit from a space. Similarly components like portals, jambs, lintels, arches, door-heads, thresholds, eves, gateways, sill, etc. singly or with their natural affinitive relationships also represent the opening system.



Masai house door Flickr image by Kenya John Atherton

The openings have a natural simultaneity of two faces, and so are dilemmatic in affectations. Janus, the Roman God of doors was a two-faced person. In literature the duality has been used to elaborate or prolong the process of conclusive action. The openings are natural or enforced edges. The openings manifest over the edges recognizing the domains of distinctions on either side. The division, is made recognizable through superlative structures like fort-walls, abutments, portals, dykes, bunds, piers, moats, barricades, etc.



In literature, on crossing an edge, change manifests. The change is seen through the scenic depiction, and also by psychical referencing. The literary-constructs present 3-way experience, of being on one or the other face, and the state of being into neither of these. The paired reality of inside and outside, or existing on one side versus the other side, creates a threshold or a Rekha (a line). The line is so thin that one has to be on one or the other side of it. But architectural entities have three-dimensional constructs, and so provide an intervening space or an Antarvedi*.

Hemchandracharya, (a Jain saint and scholar of Patan, Gujarat, India, 1088-1173) referred to such a situation as Antarvedi* (a space between two realms or a verandah). Such a condition occurs in case of Doab (a land between two water bodies -such as Punjab-India). Antarvedi is also a village situated at the Bay of Bengal and Vashista Godavari, a tributary of the Godavari River in Andhra, India.


Antarvedi -a verandah at Kalleshwara Temple Hadagali, Bellary district Karnataka India > Wikipedia image by Dineshkannambadi

 ‘Often crossing a threshold, real or implied, shifts us between safety of the known and anxiety of the unknown. Thus, working on literal and symbolic levels simultaneously, the doors and other openings offer, both, the physical reality of protection, and represent the psychological idea of safety. To stand upon the threshold permits contemplation before committing to circumstances, which once taken, may not be undone. On crossing a threshold, there is no going back to what was.’


Pax ingrangibus salus exeuntibus (peace to those who arrive, safety to those who leave) Tyntesfield Wraxall N Somerset England Flickr image by Peter Reed

A Latin phrase, ‘Pax intrantibus, salus exeuntibus’ (or ‘Intrantibus pax, exeuntibus salus’) is an ancient inscription, seen at the entrances of Benedictine monasteries, schools, inns, on gates, and at the front door or vestibule of private homes. This is translated in English: ‘Peace to those who enter, good health (or safety) to those who depart’. It states that whatever is within, is familiar and so likely of security, in comparison to what exists beyond the unknown and dangerous. This is at a complete variance from Tolkien’s (author of Lords of the rings, etc.) as he inverts the usual association of ‘being inside’ with safety, and ‘being outside’ with danger. The insides are friends and relatives who could be treacherous, but on outsides one must be on guard of the enemies. It is only by venturing outside and crossing the edge that we come to know our true selves.


In the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and other writings, the expansive Greenwood the Great was called Mirkwood > Wikipedia image by Dominik Matus

J R R Tolkien frequently refers to a door, window, gate, or other passageways to convey a change in a character’s physical, metaphysical or metaphorical state. Tolkien’s dark woodland imagery is tunnel-like juxtaposed with the open land forest. Entering a forest (as is entering into water, caves, and barrows) is like going into a dark unknown, and coming out, is gaining knowledge and confidence. Tolkien gave as much attention to literary descriptions as much to visual treatments (sketches and paintings) of the doorways, gates, windows and thresholds. In his landscape sketches, the focal point is almost always a doorway or other opening.

DOOR and the IDEA of BECOMING : One of the metaphorical meanings of doorways and openings in Tolkien’s work conveys the idea of ‘becoming’. As one passes through the doorway and enters a new stage of development or experience, having gained the ‘key’ necessary to move forward, one ‘becomes’ something more—more capable, more perceptive, more knowledgeable. Although, we often cling to our comfort zone, it is only by venturing outside our experience that we come to know our true selves. In other words, we must cross the thresholds that paradoxically lead us both outward and inward to a deeper understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and recognition of our relationships with the cosmos, just like Tolkien’s fish out of water.


An opening is perceived to be parallel to the gravity entity so in-out or exit-entry occur on a horizontal plane, but never up-down or over-under. Going down (or up) a stair or hill, do not signify the ‘door or the gate’. Even for the gate to heaven or hell the door is always parallel to the gravity. Going down is compared to entering or leaving a womb. The transition is never up (to heaven) or down (to hell). Going down happens for the burial tomb or dungeon for imprisonment. But openings may not take one outside or inside, such as the Japanese Torri Gates.


Japanese Torri gate at Itsukushima shrine > Wikipedia image by Rdsmith4


Going down ‘in to a womb’ > Wikipedia image by Alex Proimos from Sydney Australia



Post 507 – by Gautam Shah


Wikipedia Outside Looking In Author Stephen Kelly

Masking is an overlay over any opening like a window, door or gap. The overlay could be an additional system, opportunistic exploitation of surroundings, or an arrangement of perception. The masking of opening is a facilitation through transitional delay in time and space creating partial or complete disguise through shielding, blurring, selective camouflage or obscuration. Functionally, transitions through the openings are controlled, directed or curtailed through with use physical elements and effects are added or subtracted by sensory processes.

AB 640px-Berlin_stadthaus_fensterumquaderung


Primary masking occurs, on how an opening is framed within a barrier system. The opening occurs as a cut, puncture, or cleavage within a barrier, or at the overlapping edges of two barriers. Masking becomes effective with the scale of the opening in comparison to the size or extent of the barrier. A smaller opening and an extensive barrier, both create an ’imposing’ framing’. The framing of built openings need a heading or lintel, and to support the head and super structures, sides are abutted with additional structures. Such side structures or portals add to the framing of the opening. Built opening require controller of transitions like ‘shutters’, and these require jambs, frames or stoppers. In arched and angled portals, for functional reasons door framing structures are square headed, creating shape-masking. The shutter devices have some technological limitations like a door cannot be two wide, or else it sags or deforms. It cannot be too extensive in size as the wood or metals did not permit very large shutters. These factors imposed scale-masking.


5954526577_e5a96560e0_zNatural and built gaps gain importance on what view they frame. The view could be the rising or setting sun, a mountain range or valley beyond, a water body, or a plaza, street or roof tops. Where such views are not straight aligned or perfectly frontal, the viewing position is architecturally adjusted or furniture layout is attuned to it. The view curiosity is build up by denying the view till one arrives at the perfect place. 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 masking frames occur in colonnades, corridors, passages, avenues and walkways.





Post 440 – by Gautam Shah


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.

Torii Gate.jpg

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.

Gates with sides.jpg

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



Post 374 –by Gautam Shah 


During the colonial period (of British and also Dutch, French, Portuguese) in India, the residential building designs were refashioned to suit the perception, attitudes, functional requirements, climatic understandings and responses of the occupiers. In many instances vacant Kothis were renovated, altered and refurbished for the new occupants’ lifestyle. The changes and new constructions were executed by the local skills, materials, and techniques. The Kothis or Bungalows as result were in style and manner similar to that built by minor royalties and ministers of Indian states of the time.


British_Residency_in_Kollam_city,_Mar_2017New styles of buildings were, however, required for religious buildings like churches, and clubs, administrative offices, schools, judiciary courts, barracks and garrisons. The Indian examples were not available, or not suitable for the colonials’ requirements. Such utility spaces were usually part of the palace complexes or royal precincts. Many were sited in busy localities, which from a strategic point of view was not suitable. Many such activities were sited in existing buildings of the Indian states, with due alterations and additions. When colonists began to administer politically, the changeover to new constructions for administrative facilities was very gradual. Their preferred locations were outside the towns. Few new constructions like churches, clubs, and schools had distinctive ‘foreign’ ethos. Here the architectural form, style, elements and finishes were distinctly different.

Rear_view_of_the_East_India_Company's_Factory_at_CossimbazarOne of the major differences in the local’s and the colonist’s lifestyle was the perception of privacy. The privacy was an issue of visitors and staff members moving around the house. In Muslim houses, the female section was beyond the entry of male visitors but these were nearly open to female visitors. In Brahmin and other marzadi families, members of the same cast had nearly unrestricted access. The sense of privacy in Indian dwelling was more of the enforcement of the rituals for sanctimony of the various spaces. The Europeans, mainly the British were strict about visual and audio privacy.

Kankarwali Kothi Lucknow India

Secundra Bagh after Indian Mutiny

Within the tropical dwelling with many openings and with large retinues of local servants, the neat distinction of private and a public domain, was difficult to enforce. The tropical verandah was ideal space well suited for the climate. It was not just extension of drawing room for the visitors, but a house in its own. All meals, social and business meetings, children’s nursery, ladies kitty party and crafts were conducted in the verandah. The tall verandahs were covered at top half with a wood lattice or woven mats, which allowed air movement. The same were, in later period replaced with glass. The door opening to the verandahs had an extra shutter with wire mesh to keep off insects and occlude the view of interiors. French doors were used for connecting drawing room to the verandah. One of the most important detail was louvered slats within door and window shutters. This seems to be an adaptation, back home, from other European buildings. The louvers of fixed type have been extensively used for covering the top half of office verandahs in Eastern India.

st george fort madras wikipedia image by destination8infinity 4



BombayKalbadevieRoad1890typical tropical climate innovation -double strata window portuguese colonial facade old cochin kochi india wikipedia image by photo by adam jones

The double windows were one element that solved problems of privacy and aeration. This was a period when across the Europe and USA double-hung sash windows were a rage. The Indian version had top and bottom sections, each with double leaf shutters, instead of single panes sliding (up or down) shutters. The lower section of the window was stretched close to the floor so served the efficiency of a Dutch door. Tall windows reaching from floor to ceiling level had to be avoided for reasons of rain and solar gain. However, windows were masked with Venetian shutters -with fixed but open louvers on exterior face such as in Chettiar houses of Tamil Nadu and Government offices of Calcutta, West Bengal, to curtail the glare while allowing the breeze. The intricate wood joinery did not work well with the long and heavy monsoon. Similar Venetians shuttered windows were used in Eastern India, Neighbouring Burma and other countries of SE Asia.


st. mary's church, st george fort chennai india wikipedia image by nigel's europe & beyond from birmingham, uk

The double windows became a standard feature of many Indian residences and public buildings. The upper section was sufficiently sun shaded and rainwater protected by the awning or Chhajja, and so could be kept open in all seasons. The lower section was opened in the evenings for the breeze over the floor level activities. It also allowed one to look out while seating on the floor or resting on the bed. The shutters were shelf-pivot hung or sides hinged, mostly opening to the outside. It also had another set of folding type fly mesh shutters, opening on the inside, but accommodated within the wall thickness. Nowhere in India, the sash windows have been exploited.

Top half covered Verandah

old part of dhuliyan rajbari close to farakka in murshidabad district wikipedia image by amitabha gupta

Store and other minor rooms were provided with higher sill level openings but with a tapered ledge on the outside or inside. The outside tapered ledge allowed clear view of the street below, whereas the inside sloped sills allowed more light. Across Northern India, rooms had ceiling level ventilating apertures, with an awning casement shutter or a shutter less latticed opening. Doors and windows also had transom lites, with a top hung awning casement shutter in square headed openings and arched heads fixed panes of coloured pieces of figured glass with radial muntins were used.

king barrack wikipedia image by gautamoncloud9