Post 695 –by Gautam Shah


Glass Building Glass Dome Berlin Reichstag Dome

Masking and Framing of openings, have many diverse purposes but both are substantiated by their edges. Openings have their own definitive closed ended edges, but masking and framing redefines these many times with open-ended edges. The edges, not only isolate a segment of the opening, but always make the view more emphatic and relevant. The edges of the mask, such as, sharp, frayed, fuzzy, angular, curvilinear, etc. create interference, but offer qualitative change. The edges of the frames, such as, inward or outward chamferring, angular or ‘stream-lined’ rounded profiles, strongly vertical or horizontal emphasis, etc. provide a sense of enclosure. Masking and Framing, have some overlapping functions and serve complementary functions.

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Masking and Framing, have been elements of imposition to alter the conditions of the openings. Both have a secondary role of structural support. The structural support becomes real when these are integrated with the openings’ system. But the treatments may remain superfluous impositions. Such impositions include LED insertion within the glazing, or over the surface projection of images (like speech readers used by anchors). Masking and Framing, are made antithetical. These are now eliminated or diffused for simplicity, clarity, minimalism and even delusion.

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Masking has to be a smaller entity than the opening, for it to be meaningful. Masking is inhibiting or a restrictive element that resizes the opening and so controls the view, passage, effects of environment. Masking is both, planned and incidental. Planned masking offer superior conditions and perception, whereas incidental masking has surprises and new lessons. Openings are intentionally masked by architectural elements, items of furniture and furnishings, occupants. Openings get incidentally masked by growth of plants and trees, neighbouring buildings and environmental conditions.

Old Home Window Glass Architecture Within

The sizes of openings are affected by the depth aspect. Visual depth induces a perspective view. Wherever the sides are visible, add to the extent of a visual surface, and creating a frame within frame view. Imposed architectonic elements shield the opening with shadows that are more articulated than the original shadow casting elements. This overshadowing is a type of masking, reducing the apparent size opening. Similar effect occurs with deep-set and square-edged openings.

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The framing, however, became really dominant with the chamferred sides, sills, ledges and lintel bottoms. The chamferring of edges enhances the depth aspect of the opening. It adds to the extent of a visual surface, and creating a frame within frame view. The chamferring increases the view of exterior from inside, and if on inside face, it adds to perceptual illumination.

Window Barcelona Stained Glass Baroque Fanciful

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Framing of opening mainly occurs as a surround element. But the surrounds are rather too thin as jambs, and so need casing and architraves for emphasis. Reshaping of openings in the frontal plane was tried with pointed arches in Gothic period. Real reshaping of the openings and curvilinear bending was tried out in the Baroque and Rococo architecture. With the reshaping and curvilinear bending of the openings, the architectural walls were also reformatted.

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In Art Nouveau style, the openings were reshaped, and to heighten that effect, masking grills were used to de-form the rectangularity. The openings, with some restrains, and the grills, with complete abundance, used free flowing asymmetrical forms. To this vocabulary, glass patterns by way of frosting, etching, grinding and stained colouring were added.

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Early glass for windows was produced as cut bottom of a bulb or cylinder. These had residual ripple patterns, imparting a fuzzy view. The defect was subdued by masking it with translucent sheer curtains and by framing it with a grid of muntins and mullions as in Colonial sash windows.

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High quality modern glass has extra ordinary surface gloss, making it a mirror like a surface. The glossy glass if placed on the edge without sun-shading reflects the surroundings, and also reflecting sunlight as bounce-back, causing a nuisance to neighbouring properties and blinding with the glare the moving vehicles. This is now being controlled through building regulations. The solutions are masking the glass with polymer films or polychrome treatments.

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Openings are occluded by stationary and mobile objects that manifest on the inside and outside. Objects occluding a brightly lit opening are seen as silhouette or outline. A person sited against an opening can see gestures of others, but in reverse direction others fail to perceive the expressions and ignore him/her. For correct modelling some illumination or reflections from other sides are required. But this can also happen if the object has multiple planes oriented differently. The scale of occluding objects is its absolute size and relatively the distance from the opening as well as the perceiver.


Framing and Masking, have relevance of nearness. The framing becomes irrelevant at closer distance. Masking for visual screening is more affective at a distance, but for illumination control, it is affective at all distances.

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Post 693 –by Gautam Shah


17 Roman Market street

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.

3 Openings concealed in arcades Roman villa carthage

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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1 Romanesque Openings

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.

19 A baptistry of the Arians in Ravenna

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




Post 691 –by Gautam Shah


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The word sash, derives from the French chassis, which means a frame or a window shutter that holds a glass pane. Technically sash windows refer to an opening system where the framed glazed panels are opened by sliding vertically, or horizontally, against casement windows where shutters are hinged and open sideways. Sash windows, when opened, have no shutters projecting out, so resist rains better and pose lesser fire risk. Sash windows are less susceptible to warping due to moisture, as the shutter is bounded by a frame. Sash windows open by remaining within their frames, so do not distract, as do the hanging shutters of the casement windows. The casement shutters had to be of small-width, or tended to ‘drop at the free edge’. The small shutter width required many mullions to divide the opening. The wrought-iron hinges and lead cames of the casement windows were dark and heavy, compared to the clean image of the sash windows.

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Sash windows allow control over air ventilation, as it can be opened to a small slit to nearly 50 % of the opening. By keeping open both the top and bottom of a sash window by equal amounts (in double hung sash window), it allows warm air to leave at top and cool air to enter through the bottom. This facility of controlled ventilation saw major drive for use of Sash windows replacing the Casement windows.

9 Gulllotine Sash Window Châté_Lîzabé_f'nêt'

The earliest-known use of sash windows was in the later part of the 17th C. Sash windows with their better proportions and elegance compared to casement windows, soon became the most important visual element in buildings of the 18th and 19th C. Sash windows became so popular that people who could afford, replaced the leaded-light casement windows. Many 16th and 17th C houses have ‘replacement sash windows’. Such changes, however, were affected on the main facade only, less prominent facades and side faces continued with the original casement shutters.

3 At_Paraty,_Brazil_2017_100The window tax (during 1696 – 1861, in England) forced people to wall-up unnecessary windows to save tax, and also add fictitious windows for the sake of composing a facade. In spite of the taxation (window tax and a heavy excise duty on glass in 1746) discouragements, this was the period when windows design saw some of the most innovative changes.

Windows were initially positioned flush with the front face of the building, but great fire of London forced authorities, in 1907, to set back all windows by 4″ from the outer face of masonry. To further reduce the risk of fire, in 1774, the exposed wood box containing the cord and weight mechanism was required to be concealed in the side masonry.

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The first sash windows of 17th C were glazed with very heavy glass requiring thick oak frames and glazing bars. However, with the availability of thinner cylinder glass from 18th C onward during Georgian period, sash windows became lighter and elegant. Production of plate glass, from 1850 onward allowed, larger panes of glass. Larger and thinner glass panes required no or fewer glazing bars. The reinforcement offered by the glazing bars was eliminated, and so horns had to be added to strengthen the junction of the meeting rail with the frame. In more expensive work, the glazing bars were made of iron or brass and painted to appear like wood.

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To slide open a sash shutter by sliding up or down, its weight is balanced by counterweight concealed within the window frame. The counter weight bar of lead, wrought steel or cast iron is connected to the window by a sash cord or chain running over a pulley at the top of the frame. The wheels were of wood or brass. In later versions spring balances were used. In earlier versions the weight boxes, set flush with the outer wall, seemed very heavy, but in later versions due to fire laws the weight boxes were concealed in side masonry, making the sash windows look much lighter.


The glass used in early sash windows was not very clear, so the view through was fuzzy. The divided pane divided and framed the view into smaller bearable units. The presence of glazing bars, was a ‘relief’. As glass technology developed larger panes, free of the blur and blemishes were available requiring thinner or no mid glazing bars.

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The earliest sash windows were of natural wood colour, with brass and cast steel hones, joggles, weight covering plates etc. Curved horns, multi-arched heads, intricate mouldings, leaded lights and latticework started to appear in the sashes, which were often grouped into impressive bays and offset with ornate stone reveals. The shutter and the side box were made from different quality of wood. The sash window was a strange mix of materials and finishes. White painted sash windows provided single finish effect, very well contrasted by the brick masonry. The white colour over glazing bars also reduced their presence against the glass, making the windows look more elegant. The preference for white colour sash windows has continued till today even though materials have changed from wood to plastics, steel and aluminium.

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Before 1887 buildings tended to be painted in one colour, usually white, beige or gray. But later people began to paint their houses in lighter and brighter colours. The vibrant colours became a key identifiable feature of Victorian architecture. The latter part of the 19th C brought a new attitude toward colour, but sash windows continued to be painted in the Queen Anne style of white.


Sash windows originated as an opening system with two distinct sections: the top was of fixed glazing (divided into smaller lites) and the bottom section had a casement or sliding (vertical) sash. Some exceptional buildings had exterior-wall flushed windows with sash sliding horizontally and parking on the side wall.

Divisions in Sash

The bottom and top sashes (two are not necessarily of the same size) were divided into 3 x 2 =6, 3 x 3 =9 or 4 x 2 =8 glass panes. Each vertical rectangle reflected the proportion of the whole window. The 3 x 2 = 6 glass pane divisions have been accepted as the classical pattern for sash windows.

Boston USA Historic houses

Windows with one movable sash are called single-hung sash windows, to contrast from double-hung sash windows, where both sections open by sliding against one another. Alternatively, one shutter opens by sliding and the other opens out or inward with simplex hinges. Simplex hinges allow the shutter to get locked on one side while the other side is freed for opening for escape or easy cleaning of shutters from both sides. Typical double-hung windows of Georgian architecture feature the lower sash in front of the upper sash. The fixed sash at the top allowed it to match the curvilinear arched openings.

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Triple and quadruple hung windows are used for tall openings, common in New England churches. Among the numerous types of 18th C sash windows, the tripartite or Venetian consisted of a central sash with two side lights, one pane wide. The side lights were often fixed, with the sash cord running over their heads from the central sash into the weight boxes.


In tropical climates, double-hung sash windows were covered from outside by fixed louvered shutters. Some double-hung windows have a full window screen that needs to be positioned suitably over the open section. Sash windows were also built to appear as casements in Gothic and Tudor Revivals. These often involved elaborate detailing with moulded mullions and even concealing the boxes for pulleys and weights.

White Sash Windows geograph-2696053-by-Stephen-Richards

The growth in use of the casement increased during the Edwardian period, and by 1910 many houses were built with timber casements, with sash windows relegated to less important elevation. By 1939, the use of sash windows was confined to neo-Georgian buildings, particularly post offices, banks, public houses and local housing estates.


Georgian Windows are classical double-hung sash windows. Early in the 18th C, Georgian window of 3 x 2 =6 panels per sash matured. This basic configuration ofsix panes over six panes’, remained in use even after the advent of larger panes in the 19th C. Georgian sash wood windows remained widely used form till the use of steel casement windows, as a cheaper and functionally superior option.


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Horizontal Sliding Sash Windows have two or more sashes that overlap slightly but slides horizontally within the frame. In UK, these are sometimes called Yorkshire sash windows, presumably because of their traditional use in that area.

Box-head Sash Windows have shutters sliding vertically into the wall space above the header. Guillotine Windows have only one of the two sashes, usually the top one dropping down. The early versions of windows were without the counterweights or balancing system, and so had a tendency to come slamming down. Hanging Sashes are hung on a cord connected to counterweights.





Post 690 –by Gautam Shah


1 Geometrie Proportion Portal

2 Door Geometrical Divisions

A door has some fundamental significance, Proportion (of Width vs Height aspects), Size (anthropometrics) and Scale (relative size to things around it). And all these imply different meaning on the exterior and interior faces. The door size, proportion and scale, relate to the architectural schema, fore-space and contours, interior of room, and functional passage requirements.

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Doors have shutters, gates, frames, portals, surrounds, heads, thresholds, and other architectural adjuncts. These elements affect the form of the door. The doors could be really or perceptively narrow, wide, tall, short, small, large, thin or deep. But proportion is one character that remains consistent in all scales.

18 Chapel Door by Sigurd Lewerentz


Most common set of proportions (Width : Height) have been: Two squares 1: 2, and Golden proportion 1:1.61. Other shapes include Square (Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Doors), Horizontal Rectangle (Air hanger’s shutters). Sliding doors have a horizontal rectangle form. For twin shutters, each is of square shape. Multi panelled shutters have to maintain the horizontal bias for ease of movement. The real proportion of a door is seen when the shutter is open. A mid-pivot shutter may divide the opening in equal or unequal gaps. A door opening is more prominent if it is deep-set in the portal, or has contrasting colour+texture from its surround structure.

5 Square Ronchamp door by Le Corbusier

4 Entry Gate to Assembly Building Capitol Complex Chandigarh India Wikipedia Image by Lillottama

The vertical rectangular form makes the opening taller then its width. Small-width doors are technologically more efficient to construct and operate it ergonomically. Such narrow widths reduce the load on the hanging devices such as hinges and so are easy to open. Horizontal sliding doors, for easier movement, need to be wider then their height. Square doors are favourite with designers, but cannot be hung on side-end hinges. A square gap mislays its form when opened on mid or offset pivots. Very wide doors use vertical or horizontal pivots (garage doors) or sliding mechanisms (Japanese doors, Shop Rolling shutters).

Lincon Main Entrance

Historically Door Goal Portal Input Gate

22 Notre Dame Paris Multiple entrances

Instead of a wide door, multiple (ganged) doors used at railway station are multiple units in a row. Similar effect occurs for multiple folding or stacking shutters for verandahs. Multiple doors and shutters provide spaced control for simultaneity, location, orientation. Where multiple tracks are not, feasible, shutters are joined together like the bellows of an accordion to form a sliding and folding stack. Folding or collapsible doors were first used in cabinets and cupboards, and diffuse the exchange over a wider zone.

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9 Olympic Park Railway Station Ticket Barriers


A door is primarily sized for passage of humans, but often designed for mix of purposes. Some doors are exclusively for passage of goods and animals (hoppers, trap or flap doors), and so may not have any size relevance for human passage. Doors are functional elements of optimal size yet economics and technology govern its size and details. The critical aspect of door design is its width aspect. An insufficient width retards the speed, or even makes it difficult or impossible to transit through. But small width enforces discipline on chaotic traffic of entrants. Narrow width openings increase the integrity of the load-bearing structure. A very generous width fails to. Such wide openings need extra dividing barricades to channelize the traffic, or multiple narrower sub-gate systems. Bunker doors must be carefully small sized for increasing resistance to blast pressures.

Médinet-Abou. Porte du Grand Temple (Égypte) _

Door portal size and the size of the shutter, are two different things. Doors of extra ordinarily large sizes or monumental proportions have been used through ages. A large door metaphorically denotes unrestricted transit, grand reception, fearlessness or power, affluence, and dominance. Technologically a door shutter cannot be very large, so doors placed in large portals and with adjunct structures.

18 False Door dawn of civilization Egypt and Chaldaea

As a social concern in modern times, it is essential to provide doors widths suitable for disabled persons, using walking stick, crutch walkers, a wheel chair, stretcher or assisted by others. Widths of doors for, toilet, elevators, closets, store rooms, change rooms, and such other lone user utilities are considered more critical for such users.


Some famous doors > Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae 9′-0” x 18′-0″, Parthenon, Rome 0′-0″ x 24′-2″, Erechtheion, Athens 8′-0″ x 17′-2″, S. Martin, Worms 5′-8″ x 11′-3″, Palazzo Pietro Massimi, Rome, main entrance door 6′-10″ x 13′-8″, National Archives in Washington, DC, Constitution Avenue bronze doors 37′-7″ x 10′ (and 11″thick), Vehicle Assembly Building VAB of NASA door height 456′.

10 Vehicle Assembly Building VAB of NASA door height 456'

Simple sliding doors allow variable and exact control over the width of opening. Automatic sliding doors such as for elevators and for entrances of public buildings open to width governed by the density and frequency of traffic. Revolving doors have optimum opening size to maintain the air lock and prevent anyone forcing a reverse movement. Folding shutter doors allow incremental width of the opening. Garage doors sliding up were devised to get a maximum width of opening.

11 Shutting-Opening-Pushing a hinged, pivoted or sliding Door if large sized, can be a technological issue

Height of a door is checked for three parameters: the height available within the opening, the height of the door head, and the height of the threshold. The actual passage height of a door is affected by the level of terrain immediately inside and outside the door. Low level doors have been used to reduce the heat gain or loss (e.g. igloos), the storm water (e.g. sea front warehouses in America).

12 Multiple stacked doors for floors of West India Quay Canary Wharf Warehouse served by single pulley lift


The scale of a door is governed by the architectural scheme, impinging built mass and the surrounding terrain. The scale of a door is also referential. Proportionately a door or gate opening seems smaller, if the adjacent wall or barrier system is very evident. On the same scale a large or multiple openings make barriers less effective. The exchange occurring across a small opening is very intense, compared to a large gateway.

13 Door and Portal Buland Darwaza Fatehpur Sikri India Wikipedia Image by Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA

14 Adjunct structures Gwalior Fort Entry Gate Wikipedia Image by Divyarthsuryavanshi httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileGwalior_Fort_Entry_Gate

Adjunct structures enhance the perceived scale and significance of the door. Fort gates and other gateways have not only very large doors but also have elaborate adjunct structures like portals, abutments, ramparts, bulwarks, bastions, Bastille, battlements, belvederes (Chhatri), buttress, campaniles (bell towers). Historically, very large (wide and tall) doors have been a necessity, for functional passage as well as for splendour. Doors are intentionally made smaller, if these are insignificant (backdoor, servant door, supply door), or need to be concealed, such as the secret or escape doors. Mid town gates are designed as multiple (three or five) openings to serve different levels of traffic. Doors are added with side and top lites, pediment, surrounds, free columns or half-pilasters to enhance the scale.

20 Hypostyle Hall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera (XI)

Egyptian temples had very tall openings, the lower section was shuttered and the upper section was a left over gap, which allowed entry of early morning Sun God Ra. Gothic churches had upper section of the door converted into a Rose window. Very tall doors, unless required for passage, are turned into transom lites. Very tall doors require a visual correction. Romans constructed tall doors with a wider base and narrower top. For very tall doors, the construction of strong shutter and relevant opening control mechanisms have been the greatest deterrent. Tall opening like effects are created with architectural door portals and alcoves where the functional door is very much smaller.

15 Pantheon Entrance Wikipedia Image by daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Low level doors have been used to reduce the heat gain or loss (e.g. igloos), the storm water seepage (e.g. sea front warehouses in America). Romans constructed tall doors that were wider at the base than at the top to correct the visual perspective.

16 Lateral stiffening of Dam Gates in Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture, Japan. Wikipedia Image by Qurren

Large door shutters require lateral stiffening, as the usual thin shutter leaf construction is insufficient against buckling forces such as the wind, blasts, and often sonic boom pressures. Aircraft hangers’ and spaceships’ assembly workshops (Apollo, Columbia, USA) have very large doors with additional lateral framing. Hanger doors are designed to be sliding from top, bottom or both. Similarly dams and canal gates have to resist not only the pressure of retained water but dynamic pressures of waves and eddy currents. Such doors are designed as 3D entities. Stadia and such public spaces where people are likely to push against the gates, extra lateral stability is required.




Post 688 –by Gautam Shah


Bay Casement Boothbay Maine Ocean Harbor Window

Casement windows were the most common house-windows, before the sash windows were devised. The shutters of casement windows are hinged on the side, and open either inward and outward. Casement windows provide a full open aperture compared to double hung or sliding windows. The casement shutters could be solid, opaque panelled or glaze panelled. Glazing panes are fixed to the shutter by beading or putty compounds.

Window Wood Rustic

Casement shutters opening inward cause obstruction if there is insufficient parking space for the opened shutter. Inward opening shutters also interfere with window treatments such as curtains, blinds, etc.

The shutters, if of small width open with a handle cum locking device, and if of large width require a crank or lever to open. A wind stay, or a friction hinge is necessary to keep the shutter open in windy conditions, and an espagnolette is used for locking. A casement window is easy to operate with its long armed handle mechanism and so ideal for difficult to reach situations, such as places above cabinets or counter tops. Casement windows open out on nominal hinges or offset hinges that open the shutter little away from the side to allow cleaning, glazing fixing and painting of the exterior face. These are critical issues for casement windows that have protection bars, or are located on upper floors.

Curtain Mountains Window Architecture Outlook

Single casement windows are used on side lites as besides a door or fixed window. Average width of wooden casement windows is 400 to 500. Larger widths up to 600 are possible with friction hinges. Very tall casement windows require patent bolts at both the top and bottom ends to shut a window or keep it open in heavy winds.

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Double casement windows are of two types: one where two shutters meet over a mid member, and the other, where the two shutters meet over each other. The later is called a French window, it opens unobstructed in the centre.

6 Lustron_Three section Window

The casement shutter could be single, opening on left or right side. Casement windows with double shutters, open on left and right sides, or in the middle like the pages of a book. Multiple casement windows have even numbers of shutters divided into sets of two each, all shutters open on one side, or symmetry is created by opening half numbers of shutters on either side.

7 Casements

Casement windows typically are hinged at the sides, but if top hinged are called awning windows, and if bottom hinged are called hopper windows.

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Hopper Windows: A hopper window is a bottom hung a casement window that opens similarly to a draw bridge or a coal-pit receptor or hopper, typically opening to the outside. Hopper windows are used as cellar or subterranean opening.

Hopper Light: Hopper Ventilator: These have inward-opening shutter hinged at the bottom, usually forming the upper section of a door or window.

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Awning Window: An awning window is a casement window that is hung horizontally, hinged on top, so that it swings outward like an awning or a weather shed. Awnings are transom lites, used in upper sections of doors and windows as a ventilator.

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French Window: A French window is really a type of door with a small threshold. It is also called a French door. Two casement sashes hinged on the sides to open in the middle. The shutters nearly extend to the floor and also serve as a door to a porch, garden, verandah, gallery or terrace. It is double shuttered, and both of which for the full height of the shutters, have single or multiple panes of glass. It may have a secondary set of solid or louvered shutters opening to the interior or exterior side.

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Folding Casement: Casement windows hinged together so they may fold into a confined space, such as within the wall thickness. Small width shutters also makes it easier to close without stretching out too much. Folding casements are often auxiliary shutters, such as storm shutters or Venetian shutters on the outer face or fly-mesh shutters on the inner face.

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All types of eaves and window casement shutters, projecting out, were banned to prevent spread of fire along the wall, after the great fire in London in 1707. And these forced adoption of Sash windows (opening upward or downward).

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Post 685 –by Gautam Shah


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Walls are chiefly load bearing entities. The thickness is the third dimension to the nominal planner structure. The third dimension has a functional depth, and architectural character. The Architectural expression of the wall-depth modulates the facade and gives a massing flavour. The functional depth frames the view, and regulates the illumination in the interior space.

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Openings in thicker walls have external or internal ‘reveals’ surrounding the frame. The bottom section forms the ledge of the sill. Openings placed on the outer face create deep an inner side or intrados (originally intrados meant, the inner curve of an arch or vault). Similarly openings placed on the inner edge form exterior side or extrados (originally extrados meant, the outer curve of an arch or vault).

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The deep interior sides, ifsquare-edged (at a right angle to plane of the window), made the perceived size of the opening smaller, then it actually is. This type of setting on interior sides, was not a major issue, where the room spaces were comparatively narrow, and so reflection from opposite walls was available. The narrow spaces were due to the technological restrictions and for functional requirements, such as in long halls and church buildings. In squared buildings the illumination was balanced from windows in the drum perimeter of the dome.

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The deep exterior sides, if square-edged (at a right angle to plane of the window), made the perceived size of the opening smaller, a desired arrangement to enhance the wall area and de-emphasize the presence of gaps of openings. It reduced the ingress of winds and snow-rainwater. To emphasize the presence of gaps, portals were added as the opening’s treatments.

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The square’ edged openings have high contrasting brightness. Such windows require counter illumination to reduce the glare. To distribute the light better in the interior space, inner sides (-intrados with the window fixed on the outer edge) and an outer side (-extrados with the window fixed on the inner edge) were splayed by chamferring. The angled side surface was further carved, fluted with ornate borders or architraves.

1 3 M thick walls and chamferred internal edges of Guard room at Burg Meersburg on Lake Constance in southern Germany Wikipedia Image by Tobyc75

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Inner vertical sides, window heads and the sill, all were sloped to enlarge the reflective surface area. The chamferred sides on the outer face allowed more light by increasing the sky component, and allowed wider view of the outside.

20 Murals need evenly distributed illuminated wall Basilica di Sant Apollinare in Classe Wikipedia Image by Flying Russian

The effects of square and the chamferred sides of openings were well known to the mural artists (working with different mediums such as tempera, mosaic and frescoes painting), who accordingly composed the stories, shading in the scene, perspective angle, colour’s  hue and tone of artwork.

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In Romanesque and early Gothic architecture the windows were fixed on inner face, creating a plain and undisturbed interior surface. But by the time this was perfected, the Gothic walls were completely diminished, and windows were as wide as the gap between two columns.

Stained Glass in Windows

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Side walls of Gothic buildings became thinner due to the arrangement of flying buttresses and use of load-bearing columns. But the same advantage was not available in case of un-buttressed Front wall. The entrance doors of Gothic churches were flush-set on the inner face, and that allowed better view across and fuller distribution of light. But the doors set deep in the thick walls, needed chamferring with serrated sides.

21 Chartres Cathedral serrated door portal .flickr.comphotos69184488 N061189397807

In Baroque architecture the depth of opening was concealed with the projected facade elements like columns, pilasters, cornices, or pediments. In Italian Renaissance the facade had an applique lattice like a pattern that united several openings. In post medieval period, windows began to protrude out of the buildings, over into the narrow street. Bay and oriel windows, Mashrabiya openings in the middle East, and Zarokhas in India transgressed out, mainly to gain sideways view and air. The multi sided mass of the projection became a personal statement.

8 Deep set openings Hindola_Mahal,_Mandu,_India

In post medieval period, window projections created serious fire hazards and issues of encroachment of public lands. Both of these were corrected through improved fire laws and defined easement rights. Fire laws required windows to be within the wall (without any projections like ledges or hanging shutters). Later the Window tax curtailed the number of openings in a building.

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Gothic architecture had already shown how to divide large openings with traceries of mullions and muntins. Large windows in thin walls require framing and masking, but small depth did not allow formation of integrated architectonic elements, or scooping out for niche creation. Architectural add-on elements such as half columns, extrados, porticoes, etc. were additives placed to frame and highlight the opening.

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The surface of the window was strongly stated by articulated divisions, contrasts between glazed and other surfaces like rusticated masonry. Windows were also placed in inward or sunken bays. The mid-wall between the windows was treated as very shallow niche or bordered frame for murals, paintings or placing a fireplace or library cabinet. Building’s facades of thin walls were also undulated by outward bay windows, ledges and other projections.

10 Protected Opening Tim 1965 1601_I_Street_NW_-_Washington_DC_-_window_detail

Thick walls accommodate the shutters of doors and windows within the gap. But shallow window gaps offer no shading. Some form of external shading system is required. Such shading systems have been used for creating architectural facade system, as in Chandigarh Secretariat building.

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Glass curtain walls are thin body construction, often without any projections for solar protection. This now sought through the glass technology, and the ventilation through separate HVAC system. Thin walls save floor space, and so are economic in spite of the compulsory recourse to other compensatory facilities. The nominal architectural play of depth and shadows for 3rd dimensional visual depth is not available with openings in very thin walls. This is now recreated by volumetric play of the building mass, or by variegated surface finishes. For such surface modulation, other means include visual reflectance and glows (illumination from within).

Modern Windows Exterior Building Architecture

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The vividness of stained glass windows or the colourful lanterns of Gothic eras are now recreated through see through LED glass. At another level the touch screen provides the same fare. The mix of the two will become part of architectural and interior face of buildings.

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Post 668 by Gautam Shah


The first independent version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, was released on 20 November 1985. It was originally going to be called Interface Manager, but Rowland Hanson, the head of marketing at Microsoft, convinced the company that the name, Windows was more appropriate.



And this was the beginning of unlimited harassment to all architects (and even lay persons), first from the Encyclopaedias and later by search engines. This happened when a nominal word of day to day use, became almost an exclusive intellectual property. Many of the Microsoft ‘windows’ features were already tried out by Apple computers.


The ‘Windows’ was (or ‘were’, no grammar Nazis have raised the issue) was an opening to look into data. There was earlier a nearly invisible dot as the command ‘prompt’ to interact in dBase and other programme, and it never prompted anything except that the entered command is not right.




Windows 3

But here the ‘computer industry’ (Microsoft, Macintosh or some less known entity) was offering an Icon like a door within a door. The icons or windows were displayed as tiled on the screen, that is, they could not overlap or overlie another, but icons interacted with others in time and space. There were active and latent icons in terms of time reference. ‘Spatially the icons on a screen were more relevant then others that were not seen’. The icons were perceived to be windows or peep holes that allowed one to see through it.


For many, the icons are still like the 36th Chamber of Shaolin. One is aware that there is something of higher order inside, but too scared to cross over. The unceasing efforts are to form 36th chamber where ordinary people can enter and learn the “art of self-defense.


In the movie 36th Chamber of Shaolin, “San Te wants to create a new chamber where he can train ordinary people in the basics of Kung fu so they can defend themselves against their oppressors, the temple officially banishes him in a surreptitious way to allow him to carry out his mission. He returns to the outside world, namely to his hometown, and assists the people.”


This was a view in a window (like a shop front display), but, it was destined to become (with internet) an architectural entity for viewing out, whatever is happening in the world. The earlier version of Windows was little better than dBase like programmes where the software creator and user both were instilled with unspecified fear ‘do not push a wrong key’. The user was perceived to be an alien, and better remain outside.


The computers gradually became Janus’s gateway (Janus -a dual headed God of antiquity) with an interior world and an exterior cosmos. This was a virtual window or rather an entire building of its own, which could be shifted around, pushed away to obscurity, shrunk or enlarged.


Some of the basic functions of a computer system have been storage, processing power and programmes. Now one more is added, the communication or linkage. With live linkage one can source storage (cloud), computing power (parallel server processing) and dynamic programmes (in place of static loads). These make for a ‘home’ out of an architectural ‘house’, where the opening systems (‘windows’ or any other) make connections. So Microsoft windows may need to be renamed “Doors”, as doors are more functional (for passage, delivery and dispatch) than any other openings’ systems.


The smart ‘Home’ (computer or such devices) will need lot more individualization not through configuration efforts but through commonly shared (floating around) intelligence. These include the languages, intonation, choices, history of preferences, behavioural characteristics, biological patterns and capacities.

Multi-level ghorfas, as seen at Ksar Ouled Soltane in southern Tunisia..