Post 670 by Gautam Shah



Openings need additional shading systems primarily because these are thin and more translucent in comparison to any other structural barrier systems, like walls, floors or roofs. Additional shading systems are preferred because the needs are for small period of time, part of a season, occasion or location. The needs for a shading device are people, culture or locality specific. The openings are used for outward and inward view, illumination, breeze and air change. And shading devices achieve needs by blockage, filtration, reflection, redirection or delays.


Opening systems like Gates, Doors and Windows have three distinct zones: The exterior zone deals with environmental aspects that are spatial extensive, directional, temporal and seasonal, The interim section constitutes the body of the opening, and so its depth is the operative element. The interior segment is in the personal domain of the owner-user, which makes Interior shading devices easy to install, manouevre, change, with variable yet very precise control over the functions. Interiors shading devices are also visible from outside and so some conflicts of approach to design are inevitable. In most likely scenarios the architect is a different person than the Interior designer, who may or may not confirm to the theme of architecture.


Shading Devices with openings are of many different types. Different types of shading devices improve each other’s functions, often duplicating it. There is a strong demand to rationalize the system with fewer elements, by way of integration, removal of duplication and redundancy. Shading devices offer micro tuning of the environment, catering to local requirements, provide occasional variations and satisfy the urge for personalization.


● External shading devices are architectural provisions, with varying levels of integration. There is an overwhelming regimen of the building style, location, orientation and shape-form. The provisions are so confirmatory that user is not allowed to make any changes. The provisions, though occur as fixed devices and as manipulable systems, no spatial relocation is allowed.


External shading devices are of longer lasting materials as these have to bear the elements of environment like Sun, rain, heavy storms, snow, atmospheric pollution. These are termed architectonic element due to the match with architectural language.



External shading devices are very effective, as they intervene before the radiation, rain, wind etc. enter into a building shell. Such devices de-rigueur have universal design for all faces and floors, but are affective differently at different times of the day or season.


● Interim shading devices have thickness as the key factor, and are usually thin. Interim systems could have partial spread or have options of folding, collapsing or demounting. These are frugal and likely to be a single purpose entity. Interim shading systems are often spatial provisions of vacuum or gas filled cavities.


● Internal shading Devices occur in a user domain and so are preferred for the ease of choice, installation, change and manipulation. These provide variable yet very exact control over privacy. The internal shading devices are housed in a protected environment so can be delicate, lighter in weight and occupy a very small thickness.


Internal shading devices are multi layered to serve diverse purposes, and offer several choices of spread or placement. The space between different layers is intentional, to work as a metaphysical barrier. Internal systems also serve purposes beyond the shading, like sound and thermal insulation of the interior space. These also provide a tactile (soft) surface, colour and textural effect in the interior space. Interim shading devices filter and diffuse the light in inward and outward directions.


Internal shading devices are predominantly of soft materials such as fabrics, films, sheets, flexible materials like mats, nets, tapestries, or stiffer materials such as reeds, wood slats, etc. Thin and pliable materials allow the assembly to collapse, gather or roll up. Glazing materials offer largest variety of surface treatments, by way of manufactured constitution, integrated and applique surface treatments. Glass surface treatments now include application of films, texturizing, metalizing, micro (nano or molecular level) engraving, enamelling and colouring.


Shading devices such as Venetian blinds or vertical louvers are not very effective on the internal face of the opening, as the solar gain has already been admitted into the interior space. But interior shading devices offer glare control, and visual comfort. An internal shading device reflects back part of the radiation, but latent heat remains within the interior space.

Shading Devices are single or multi layer systems, acting as a composite or assembly of individual skins. The layers have prearranged sequence, so access to an inner layer becomes difficult. Some can be collapsed or removed. Layers form a planer element with some materials plus cavities as the substantive body.

Interim Layer of masking tower-stairhall-300-x-225

Additive or mounting systems are used as optional or occasional facility like storm shutters. Collapsible or folding systems require a volumetric space for parking or resting, which reduces the net area of opening. Pseudo or pretentious shading devices are in the form of furniture elements, furnishings, panelling, partitions and other architectural devices.


Thermal management by shading devices: These are designed to take optimum advantage of seasonal angles of a solar incidence. The solar gain occurs primarily in reference to the plane of the window, so an alternate method could be to have a variable plane of the window, but that may not be an appropriate architectural style. However, external shading devices keep the glazing surface in shade to cut off the direct solar radiation.


Vision management through shading devices: Shading devices as subsystems divide the view out or inwards by framing, masking, modelling. The visual scape is altered through the sill and lintel level and shape, pattern configurations, quality of glazing etc.


Safety security with shading devices: External shading elements maintain or reduce the size of opening, and so become integrated latticed barriers for safety and security against height related hazards.



Post 619 –by Gautam Shah















Post 248 – by Gautam Shah



Architectural windows have many sizes, shapes, form and locations. Wherever and for whatever intentions a window is placed, its most fascinating function is view out, and for some cases the view in. Wherever there is a little crack or opening in a wall like structure, one wants to discover the realm on the other side. Windows, enlarged or small in size, transgressed out and inward, pushed to the floor or roof, to regulate the scope of vision.


The mechanics of vision depend on several factors, such as: distances of the window frame, vision cone and the frame extent, sill level, lintel level, shading devices, size of window sides, window design or configuration, quality of glazing, level of maintenance, the differences of outside and inside illumination, amount of the glare, treatments on internal and external faces, quality of external surroundings, tasks, orientation, climatic conditions, lighting conditions, need for protection and privacy, etc.

NASA Space ship Window

The notion of the ‘eyes as the window to the psyche’ goes back at least to a text by philosopher Sextus Empiricus (2nd C AD).


The factors regulating the vision continue to evolve with new forms of openings, shutter systems and glazing technologies. A window is a frame, marking the edges of the aperture, and also the reference plane for the visual experience. The frame of a window reflects its structural dependence, but also aspirations for the structural un-susceptibility. The frame is not the body of a window, but rather the sized sides of the openings. The openings’ sides, sill tops and lintel or arched bottoms, in heavier wall structures imposed their presence, with the differential colour tone of the reflected light. These were, both, enhanced or dissolved with techniques like chamfering of sides, placing the window on an extreme inner or outer edge, texturing the side with flutes and carvings. The treatments to the sides affected the framing clarity of the vision.

Residence Abbey Church Holyrood Palace Holyroodhouse

The sides of the openings were encroached or enhanced by additional architectonic elements, such Jambs, sides, entablatures, architraves, pilasters, half columns, pediments, etc. These elements were intended to mould the appearance of the openings, but in many instances undulated the edges of the visual framing.


Glass windows have been prominent in domestic buildings since the 15th C, before, that these were employed in Gothic churches and public buildings. The Gothic windows were meant for the colourful effect, and due to a high plinth (sills were usually beyond the head level on ground floors) less for vision purposes. Compared to it, the Indian temples have remained without glazing, offer very little for vision-in, though vision out was through an axially placed opening.

High Plinth Windows Tall sill levels Gloucester Cathedral

Sections of the windows cause stratification of the view. Windows show views in three references: The higher view (above the horizontal eye level or head level), the middle view (within the nominal cone of vision) and the lower view (eye and the head both bend downward). The stratification of view becomes obvious when working some distance away (typically equal to one human height measure) from the window. A person working close to the face of a window may get all three views from a mid level opening. The strata are more pronounced in windows with horizontal baffles as the shading component.


Stratification of View by Window divisions

Higher view from the upper section of a multi-story building shows up only sky, a very static view. But higher view in a low rise building shows upper parts of surrounding buildings, mid portions of trees, and horizon, a slightly changing view, but not strong enough to cause any distraction. Mid level views on busy streets, are distracting due to continuously moving objects outside, and varying illumination and reflections in the interior space. Mid level views from any floor are ergonomically not exerting for most tasks. Low level view from upper floors show up the grounds, gardens, lower terraces, water bodies, etc. All of these surfaces very strongly reflect the changes in solar illumination, shadows, moving objects, etc. The ceiling surfaces become extremely vivid due to the upward reflections, not an ideal proposition for bed rooms, rest rooms and hospital wards.


Corner window

A fully stretched floor to ceiling window shows all the three views concurrently, and as a result there is no stratification of the view. The strata can be supported or diffused, by including or avoiding the horizontal elements in window design.


Open Zarokhas, bay windows and Latticed balconies, like at the Jaipur Hawa Mahal or Mashrabiya of middle east, are two opposite versions of street side openings.

Mashrabiya Egypt

Historically, windows have not been used for viewing in the interior spaces. Though small aperture openings, alone or as part of the doors, were used for eavesdropping, spying or casual observation (Darshan). These were small sized because the eye was placed very close to the aperture. Display cabinets and Aquariums have glazed fronts to display the items. Office and cabin doors have view windows.

Commercial spaces require people to see the interiors’ spaces and the goods and activities therein. Shop fronts are large format fixed glass windows. A shop front design depends on the angle of observation, difference between outside-inside illumination, angles of a light source, its size and intensity. Shop fronts are designed for clear and glare free view, achieved by treatments over glass, external shading devices and through back up illumination. The quality of glass and its cleanliness become very important issue. A view-in window like the shop front ensures security as a person breaking-in is likely to be observed.

Interior Illumination Glass

Illuminated Glass Fronts

The cone of vision is determined by the width of the window and depth of the room. A corner side window cuts off the view compared to a centrally positioned window. Ribbon like horizontal windows are called panoramic openings, whereas spot windows are called picture openings.

Villa Savoye Ribbon window

Panoramic views became popular with curtain wall structures. Here the horizontal members are placed floor level, and verticals are widely spaced or concealed. The glass walled window has the R-value of 3, which is the same as an inch of corrugated cardboard, making it a space of uneven temperatures. A study by the Urban Green Council, says that 59% of New Yorkers keep the blinds closed over their big glass windows.

Caboose wagon

The excitement of the frontal panoramic view and domed eye view of Pantheon have gone a step further. It started with Caboose rail wagons, where a dome projection over the roof allowed all round vision. The view down is being tried in many different formats. Sears Tower in Chicago has installed four glass box viewing platforms or sky-deck (called Deck) that juts out 1.2 mt, at 103 floors level.



The television screen as a replacement of a traditional window, creates ‘spatial ambiguity between public and private space’. In German post-war-architecture, the transparency of glass was equated with the transparency of the democratic government (dome of the former Reichstag in Berlin).

Glass Box Balcony 1

Glass Box Balcony 2


SPACE PLANNING by Visual and Non-visual means

Post -by Gautam Shah



The personalization of a space achieved through visual means is very obvious as much as it is effective. However, use of non-visual sensorial effects for personalization of space are very subtle but equally effective. Non-visual sensorial effects are not easy to perceive, record, communicate and express.

640px-Standen_InteriorProfessional designers, in their conventional space planning, give consideration to parameters like auditory, olfactory, tactile and atmospheric factors such as the temperature and moisture, etc. This is because many of the visual means also provide non-visual sensorial effects, at specific position and under certain circumstances.


A lay person improvising own spaces finds it very difficult to replicate the use of non-visual sensorial effects. A lay person considers non visual sensorial effects at best as the reinforcing elements to visual means.



For professional designers as well as lay persons, the judgements on these counts are often speculative because effective results derive from accumulation of several factors.


  • For example, Visual and Auditory senses work in consonance, as both have a sense of scale and direction. In space planning one provides the clue about the other.


  • The selection and placement of furniture, furnishings and enrichments can change the visual space perception, whereas the surface treatments of the same elements can change the audio response.


  • Tactile sense requires one to be in proximity of the surface, yet the textures, nature of construction (hollow, foamed, micro undulations), etc. prompt the auditory response from a distance, and so pre-empt the perception.


  • Odours are perceived with air and its movements. Enclosed rooms filter the noise but reduce the chances of fresh air. This translates into ‘smelly or stagnant space’. A designer has to perceive a space planning layout with all these overlapping sensorial perceptions, and notions people have about it.


Other parameters such as the privacy, intimacy, well being, safety, security, seclusion and participation, are achieved through sensible space planning, but need space and time reinforcement through indicative means.


The purposes of space elements, their placement, composition, shape or size, are not very apparent to a casual visitor. However, such effects become apparent on the required occasion and situation with non-visual reinforcements.