This blog is really going to be about windows. When you google that word you come up with computer related topics, but that is not at all the main concern of our blog. Of course, since the mid 1980s, “windows” is used more and more for referring to the graphical user interface used on most computers for accessing their software; but here, we’re more concerned with the ecological significance of the term and with its architectural properties. Nowadays, when our weather, climate and even survival is so precarious—when the results of our fossil fuel dependency reaches a prolonged crisis—the interior/exterior transition in buildings deserves attention. When you live and/or work in a sealed glass wall structure, more familiarly called a curtain wall, you are living and working in an artificial environment and tend to not worry about or even notice the atmospheric conditions without.
While the title of our blog, Apertures in the Wall, narrows our field, since it implies a lens opening in a skin on a vertical plane, window’s definition is more catholic; it can mean openings not only in a wall, but on a ceiling or roof, or a door or even in a vehicle. Skylights or sliding car windows are fair game for discussion. We are going to stress operable windows, be they sash, casement or others in the same family, although beautiful glass windows which are sealed (or seem to be so) are not going to be excluded from our visions. The types of movable windows are listed in Wikipedia, but in time we shall discuss their definitions and make their meanings clearer by expanding upon them. There will be typologies of windows, e.g. urban or religious openings, analyses of artists who choose to bring in windows as harbingers of lighting effects, and other examples which I and our readers will come to in our research, and share with each other. Friends have suggested interesting windows. One friend, Scott Brandi, architect, has helped explain technical matters in understandable prose. Another, John Hailu, a computer guru, I wish to thank (and blame 😉 ) for suggesting this topic to me about a year ago.
I became fascinated with apertures in the wall—windows and doors—many years ago, 45 years in fact, when doing research for my dissertation (Frank, 1969) in The Netherlands. I zoomed in closely to look at these features of buildings for two reasons:
- I think in individualistic ways, closing in on details of buildings because I found them ready for study in Holland, and
- they are such basic parts of architectural functions that bridge their identity on the relation between inside (more private) and outside (more public).
At a time when the world is rapidly changing—socially, politically, climatologically, and architecturally, these elements of building remain to be explored. They still persist, even if there are those who would try to eliminate their presence and importance. I’d like to deal with themes these features are part of and with individual cases themselves. Ideally I’d like to define them and show examples which carry the traditional meanings of door and window and also to indicate the positive and negative aspects of modern examples of our apertures.
I’m an architectural historian, 78 years old, not entirely in my declining years, and I have a husband who is a photographer and a dog who is just as old as I (in dog years), but who walks me and allows me to look at buildings. My daughter and her tribe live in Summit, New Jersey, whose suburban condition is a challenge to my urban-centered studies.
Blog posts should appear about once a month. I look forward to our readers’ comments which I will take to heart and respond to in the pieces I write. Dare I hope to entice a few readers to contribute posts as guest bloggers. I would like to maintain a lighthearted and interesting touch throughout our blog site, yet want to increase its usefulness by striving for accuracy in details of time and place, historically and geographically, using end-notes and bibliographies, images and illustrations, with the help of the vast potential of our Internet public.