OPENINGS through AGES

Post 693 –by Gautam Shah

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kennel Old Town Dresden Baroque

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

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

 

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SASH WINDOWS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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CASEMENT WINDOWS

Post 688 –by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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SHADING DEVICES for BUILDINGS

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Post 670 by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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● 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.

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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.

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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.

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● 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.

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● 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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ARCHITECTURAL vs COMPUTER WINDOWS

Post 668 by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Windows_2.0

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

MASHRABIYA -an opening system

Post 655 -by Gautam Shah

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shanshil Iraq

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

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

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SPATIAL NATURE of WINDOWS

Post 644 –by Gautam Shah

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Windows are surface elements with great presence on both exterior and interior sides. It is fairly a complex entity against the comparatively simplistic wall, but a surface that is penetrable. Its surface is very dynamic, due to the continuous variations in views through it and the vivid reflections on the glass surface. The contextual conditions like climate, illumination, distance and angle of observation and the purpose of use and multifarious position of the shutters continuously reshape the perceived form of the window.

The external changes are reflected as a reverse mirror image in the glazing surface, and the interiors get revealed through an iridescent surface. A window, as a single picture frame, simultaneously reveals the changes occurring in the interiors as well as exteriors. The dynamism of the window gets enhanced further by the framing, masking and filtration of the perception.

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Looking out Chand Baori Stepwell Rajasthan India Flickr Image > https://flickr.com/photos/bpprice/12043141995

A window is like a membrane with degrees of permeability. It may not permit one to go through it, but allows to stretch out through the sensorial faculties. We see, smell, listen and feel the other side through the window. The connection to the other side of the window is always short and casual. The frugal experience stimulates one to go across it, albeit by other means. Doors are dilemmas, either go out or remain in, but a window provides no such options. A person on outside of a window perceives the safety in the interior, and the one in a bounded space realizes the freedom and diversity of experiences available outside. Windows have been used for opening out the interior spaces or for bringing in the exteriors.

Pecs Zsolnay Architectural District Building

The historical window with opaque glazing of heavily coloured pot glass was extremely colourful but dead static. As the glass became thinner and lighter in colour, the changes in outside levels of illumination began to be noticed on the interior face. This was aided by the use of water white Cristallo glass. Interiors seemed now much more natural, and attuned to the outside changes in luminescence. Till 19th C windows were vivid elements in an otherwise static exterior or interior surface. The Cristallo glass, outside was a dull metal like an opalescent surface, but new clear glass with better casting, polishing and fire finishing began to be iridescent.

The glass was recognized as having two distinctly different faces. Iridescent on the outside face due to reflections and a ‘water-white’ flawlessly clear and non glossy surface on the interior face. Corbusier used the opaque iridescence of the exterior surface to juxtapose the exterior masonry or cement surfaces. But FLW used the deep shadows to eliminate the exterior iridescence and added colour staining and patterning to break the transparency. Mies used the exterior mirror like gloss to reflect the changes occurring in the surroundings concurrently juxtaposing the interiors. This helped to reduce the massiveness of the built-form.

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FLW Window with masking of Pattern > Flickr Image by Hardisty

Window glass is now often used to assimilate the realities of interior and exterior on a very large joint-less screen. The mix creates a very vivid object, like a water body reflecting both the sky and the floor. Metalized opaque glass belies the two-way transparency of a see-through element.

Wall to wall glass openings dissolve one or many sides of a volumetric space, reshaping its perceptive size, scale and extent. The spatial illusion becomes more intriguing when such a large reflective glass surface is used. Wall corners, large stretches of surfaces, acutely angled spaces, stubborn elements like columns and piers are dissolved by illusion of windows through mirroring effect of glass.

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Corner in Glass > Flickr image by Wonderlane > https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/4889566212

We are conditioned to expect certain spatial effects in a space. And glass is an effective tool for breaking that anticipation. A narrow space visually gets widened by a glass opening. Skylights and clerestories add ‘lightness’ to the space. Lights such as roof holes focus the attention. Openings, depending on their location and nature redefine the space configuration. The stratification of view to the outside offers different scale to the space. Significantly bright areas highlight the details, and so are perceived and registered, more effectively then darker zones. A window becomes an element for changing a space, intentionally and accidentally.

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Madrid Crystal Glass palace Pixabay image by IvanPais Espanol

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Madrid crystal glass palace > Pixabay image by IvanPais Espanol

Windows are furrowed gaps into an otherwise solid barricading mass. The depth is highlighted due to the dark interior, and shadows cast by strong and directional light. The shadows as a form creating element was very well exploited by L. Kahn in his Asian buildings. The same effect at a micro scale and in repetition creates a lattice, used in Indian Architecture. Windows like, bay, bow, Mashrabiya and oriel have been used to enlarge interior spaces and also to correct the interior shape of the space. Zarokhas add to the interior space but have also been used to undulate the exteriors.

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Gothic window tracery Snettisham Norfolk England > Flickr Image by Spencer Means > https://flickr.com/photos/hunky_punk/7511302668

Masking has been very commonly used to change the character of the windows. Greek and Roman architecture subdued the openings as a secondary and less visible layer. Romanesque windows once again came to the surface, but openings were framed by the semi circular arch. Coordinating several windows was a difficult design issue, as the height of the rounded arch was defined by the width of the opening. Gothic architecture solved the problems of geometric composition, by of pointed arch. It also created a system of subdividing the window opening through mullions, transoms and glazing bars. The window opening was masked by traceried patterns. Window masking became an effective tool to overcome the deficiencies of glass, size, clarity and impurities. The deficiencies made the windows subservient entity of the load-bearing structure. Glass houses, orangeries, etc. allowed windows to define a space without the use of a wall. The need for very large and deep sun lit spaces for bus depots, railway stations, markets, and factories redefined the Windows’ spatial nature.

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Pot Metal Glass stained Window Exhibit in Krannert Art Museum > Wikipedia Image

Framing is a property of all openings. Openings have their sides and mid members within the view cone depending on the point of observation. Palladio masked and framed the exterior face of the opening. The double-hung sash windows did the same on both, exterior and interior face. Framing is now used as an inevitable joint management system, and but often made imperceptible. Stratification (window openings’ position @ low, mid or higher level with reference to height of the user or the task plane) is an important ergonomic parameter that affects the spatial perception.

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Elgin Cathedral > Wikipedia image by Billreid

Transparency is a quality of the glass, and the most important aspect of the surface of the opening. A window opening in the form of a glass curtain wall or shop front, shows up the space in its exterior surface configuration, and also the spatial depths of its interiors. The simultaneity of the exterior and interior spaces adds to the dilemma of the physical reality vs the virtual reality.

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Glass house by Philip Johnson New Cannan, CT USA > Wikipedia image by Staib

This re-composed article is based on my earlier BLOG > here >

http://talking-interior-design.blogspot.in/2009/12/spatial-character-of-windows.html

AND the BLOG was based on my Lecture Notes > Interior Components and Systems: Windows >>

http://www.gautamshah.in

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