Bringing the outside partly inside
Traditional India lived outdoors more than indoors in most regions, which made ecological sense
Just perfect: A door leading to an indoor green space
Recently we discussed floor-to-roof windows that let earth and sky enter the building. Following it, there were two comments from readers who liked the philosophical side of the statement – one appreciating the need to fuse indoors to outdoors to enable natural living and the other seeking more information on good ideas that may not necessarily be economical. Following the comments is this essay on a wonder solution called sliding and folding door with window and security grill.
Most of us know about French doors, though we might never have wondered why they are called so! French doors are glass doors opening into a sit-out or a garden, fairly popular in urban homes.
While they let us see and walk into outside, they demand a separate grill door, consume more space and need vertical frames at every 3′, blocking total vision of the garden. We also have sliding doors, normally in aluminium, pretty common in apartments and in a few offices.
Here, a security grill cannot be attached to the sliding frame, hence a grilled enclosure is created, which often looks like a cage! In both the options, we need to open them to get air, making us worry about security.
In warm humid and composite climatic zones without extreme hot and dry temperatures, much of living can be done outdoors. We need not spend money building large spaces, but open the modest interior space to outside through sliding folding doors, getting the combined benefits of cost saving in reduced built area, extended activity space when needed and the luxury of natural environs even in sites as small as 1200 sq. ft.
During normal times, the system is shut like any other door to securely enclose the interiors.
The folding doors have an openable window with grill, fitted within the door frames, so routinely work as French windows with light and air!
The only disadvantage is the cost factor – the steel channels, guide rails, drop hinge, top wheel and such components add to the cost of a normal door. It is a nominal addition, yet can be argued as an antithesis of cost-effective architecture.
While this idea may not work in hot regions due to increased heat gain, adaptations are possible by careful orientations and shading devices like trees, overhangings or projections. After all, traditional India lived outdoors more than indoors in most regions, which made ecological sense.
Most carpenters doing it for the first time needed to study the detailing, and having done one, are excited about its application and versatility.
Most owners, living in houses with sliding folding doors, feel the cost is worth it, enjoying the combined advantages of French door with window, increased sense of space, unhindered view of outside, and of course, the eco-friendly experience of merging inside and outside.