Windows to the world


Windows play a major role in the aesthetics of a space. But the key role a window plays is in providing air and light. K R Srikanta Prasad explores the varieties of windows on offer.

To make any space habitable, ventilation is the key. Imagine a very sound construction without air and light! While designing a building, the architect keeps this in mind and provides sufficient window openings in the external walls. When it comes to taking a decision on windows, the important aspects are the location, sizes and the material specification.

Location & sizes

These depend on the particular space, purpose, orientation and aesthetics. The location also depends on the effective cross-ventilation requirements and the interior layout. The direction of sunlight and breeze are also considered. The quantum of the openings also depends on the setbacks and the adjacent buildings. The shapes of the openings can be rectangular, square, circular, etc. and depend on the architectural detail.

Windows in a building have a major role to play in the aesthetics of the structure. For example, large commercial complexes are provided with large glass facades for front elevation purposes in addition to lighting requirements. Basically the location and size of windows depends on the room size and the intended light level.

Optimising on this is very important in a design. It is amusing to see huge and disproportionate windows in some places being covered with expensive curtains to tone down the light level!

Use of materials

The most popular material for windows is wood. Teak wood is the most preferred since it is durable, can be polished well and looks good. But teak wood is a very expensive option. Hard wood like sal and neem are also used for the frames. For shutters, honne wood is a good option. These specifications are less expensive when it comes to wooden windows. Wood in general has many advantages like ease of making, installation, grill and glass fixing, maintenance, operation and durability. Wooden windows absorb polish or paint and can be custom made.

The role of wooden windows comes into play while judging value and resale value of a building. The price ranges from Rs 1,000 per sft to 1,500 per sft depending on the wood used. It is advisable to opt for well-seasoned termite proof hard wood.

Windows are also made with steel sections. They are made with either z-sections or wood-like box sections. Steel windows are widely used since they are strong, durable and economical. They can be easily fabricated and installed. They can either be enamel painted or powder coated. A well-designed steel window can work out really economical. Periodical maintenance needs to be done without fail. These come with grills that are welded and are very safe. The price varies from Rs 400 to Rs 600 per sft.

Another material that is widely used for windows, especially in apartments and commercial buildings, is aluminium. This is ideal when the windows are sliding. Large scale manufacturing is easier and can be quickly installed. These are easy on maintenance and replacement. They also come with mosquito-proof shutters.

The aluminium sections can be anodised or can be powder coated to achieve the desired colour combinations. These are less expensive compared to wooden windows and costlier than steel windows. Steel grills, if required, will have to be fitted separately. Aluminium sections look elegant and sleek. They do not rust and are fire-proof.

Factory-made windows using premoulded and fabricated PVC sections are also available. These are smooth in operation, durable, waterproof and fire-retardant. They come in sleek sections and good quality. The price ranges from Rs 500 per sft to Rs 800 per sft.

Other kinds

There are fixed type and openable windows as well. The fixed type can be with fixed glass, welded mesh, mosquito mesh or perforated sheets. The openable ones are with shutters that can be side hung, top hung or sliding and folding. Aluminium sections are ideal for sliding and folding windows. These facilitate maximum ventilation. There are other types like louvre windows that give partial privacy. Based on the specific design, there are bay windows, French windows or corner windows.

Apart from creating a special effect, they also ensure better usage of space. Bay windows normally project out of the wall line and provide additional floor space and can be furnished like a diwan. Thus, there are many ways to effectively use these windows as a potential design element. There is lot of potential to decorate the windows from inside with attractive layered curtains or blinds. A well-designed window will not only serve as an opening for ventilation, but also will add to the beauty of the building.

Based on all the considerations, it is important to optimise on the design of appropriate windows. These days, one thing that is strange but true in a typical urban situation is that, people end up keeping most of the windows always closed. This may be due to lack of privacy, security or pollution issues. We should keep in mind that the window is provided as an opening for good ventilation and is not meant to be kept closed! The ceiling fan that is always on re-circulates the same old air. In case of rooms that are provided with AC, the window size shall never be too large. That consumes more power.

It is advisable to provide the right type of windows for a particular space and also keep them open as far as possible for better cross ventilation and hygiene. It is also important to opt for the right glass and mosquito mesh wherever required.
The direction of wind and rain shall be considered for a proper orientation. Also, large openings with clear glass can be provided when the rooms are facing greenery for a pleasant view.

(The writer is a civil engineer.)

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