THE LANGUAGE OF A WINDOW

 

For almost as long as there have been houses, there have beenwindows. The first were simply holes in a roof or wall that allowed smoke to escape. Covered with skins or furs to keep out the cold, there function was pure a functional one. Much later, windows were sectioned off by frames and covered with finer materials, allowing light to enter a space. With the invention of glass - a costly a costly material that denoted the wealth of those who chose to use it- house-dwellers were at last able to protect their homes from the elements, while ensuring at the same time that light, during daylight hours at least, could flood in.

These days, windows bring so much more than just light and protection to a building, vital though these functions may still be. Instead, they may have a specific character of their own, determined by their shape or size. They may be a stand-alone element within a vast expanse of brick wall, or form that wall with its entirety, providing a crucial link between indoor spaces and the world beyond. A ribbon window meanwhile, as its name suggests, complements the ribbon walls we talked about in chapter one, evolving in shape from a clerestory window into a glass wall or vertical strip window.

As window design has become increasingly sophisticated, it has been possible to minimalise framing if so desired. Moreover, the sort of features traditionally seen embedded in the walls close to windows can now be hidden away. Light sockets, blinds, security and hi-fi wiring can all be recessed within walls in so called 'smart zones', so that they are almost invisible. And these smart zones no longer have to be located in 'traditional' areas. These days, as in many of the buildings I have designed, they have been relocated behind areas such as suspended ceilings. Relocating these essential practicalities and tucking them away creates a space that is visually more relaxing, and frees up wall areas, either as a base for artwork, or simply to create restful areas that give a room - and its inhabitants - space to breathe.