Windows to new ideas

Having the right design for windows and placing them at the right location impacts the internal ambience

An essay on windows could be written to mean many things: being a metaphor or a philosophy; as a new vista and an idea; or simply as a building component with glass shutter. How this word has graduated beyond its physical presence can be a story by itself!

Incidentally, there is a whole new world within the idea of windows to be discovered, a world of living with nature and being eco-friendly. All that hype about big glass boxes arising in our cities and the new talk about green architecture are also centred around windows.

In a tropical country like ours, designing and locating the opening has critical impacts on both the internal environment and ambience.

Most people complain about day heat, foul air or lack of privacy in their buildings. Once built, we tend to retain the building with all its deficiencies, adopting ourselves to it and of course complaining as well!

For their information, a few minor changes in window types or positions could have mitigated the problems noticeably. To that end, it is important that even before starting the construction, we give a considered thought to all the openings in the building.

Lack of thought

Most windows, across all building types, are being located by some routine practice, evolved over the decades for reasons we do not fully know or question.

Offices have large openings in the centre of the space, schools have small windows spread at equal distance from each other and houses have openings measuring 3’x4’6” in all rooms irrespective of it being a living room, dining room, bedroom or study room! There will be more windows to the road side and less to the back.

And in small plots with houses packed next to one another, as my architect friend Bindumadhav would quip, we can open our windows and close the neighbours!

Simple Living: Let the light flow in and create a wonderful mood

Over the years, material options for windows have trebled with UPVC, composite frames, ferro-cement and such others adding to the list of wood, aluminium and steel. Each claim merits over the others, with near universal applicability.

Windows cost many times more than the masonry wall, yet the cost escalation possible by changing the material gets mixed up with the overall, hence ignored.

Unfortunately, no manufacturer provides clear guidance about where not to use a specific window type. Even the type of glass offers options for greater efficiency, which are mostly ignored.

Cost, climate, comfort and culture, as the four critical parameters of design, influence the ideal window.

There could be no single solution to it unlike say lintel beams, but better understanding about what a window should be, can lead to greener buildings.

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Posted on November 13, 2010, in designs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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