Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 16, Tuesday, April 20, 2010


looking in gazing out

The world beyond our windows is so easy to forget. There is nothing more comforting than to sit in a green space. When we connect with nature, we are also connecting with our spiritual selves. Windows are a natural focal point. Whether airy and open or dramatically decorated, the treatments you choose define the style and mood of your room. This week, we take a look at the window, an essential component of a home.

A peek through time
The earliest windows were just holes in a wall. These were later covered with animal skin, cloth, or wood. Shutters that could be opened and closed came next. Wooden windows have been around for thousands of years. When they were first invented, they were created out of necessity.

Wood can be used to create possibilities. They are available in abundance and can be easily harvested to build houses and other types of useful items. The Romans were the first to use glass for windows.

Panes of flattened animal horn were in use since the fourteenth century in Northern Britain, and glass only became common in the windows of ordinary homes around the early 17 century. Modern-style floor-to-ceiling windows became possible only after the industrial glass making process was perfected.

Around the world...
Double-hung sash windows are traditional style windows in Europe and many other places that were formerly colonised by Great Britain. Nowadays, most new double-hung sash windows use spring balances to support the sashes, but traditionally, counterweights held in boxes on either side of the window were used. Single-hung sash windows are a little different; one sash is movable and the other fixed.

Jalousie windows, also known as louvered windows, consist of parallel slats of glass or acrylic that open and close like a Venetian blind, usually using a crank or a lever. They are used extensively in tropical architecture.

Fixed windows, whose function is limited to allowing light to enter cannot be opened. Clerestory windows are often fixed. Transom windows may be fixed or operable.

Traditionally, in Europe, arch windows were popular for houses. The pastoral households preferred long provincial windows with wooden double shutters. Decorative windows were even popular in Central Asia. Some are Gothic, some are French colonial. Many of the styles still exist. Homeowners still like to adopt some of these styles in their dwellings.

Wood is a popular choice because it can be used to recreate almost any type of style. Of course, the workmanship and skills do matter. In general, the higher the level of skills, the more sophisticated the designs. You may also have to pay more for complex designs.

Many people still believe that wooden windows are not as durable as those made from other types of materials such as steel. Contrary to popular belief, wooden windows can be finished in such a way that make them last longer than expected.

...and at home
The older parts of Dhaka are really amazing for the architectural aspects. Most of the houses are in the Colonial style. We moved from Armanitola towards Farashgonj, snapping pictures of these buildings, some of which are almost half a century old. Windows are arched, some wooden frames bearing a wave design. In those times people used straight vertical rods as grills and double part 'khorkhori' shutters for their windows.

Our Bangladeshi villages also retain their own styles. Our photographer Sujan went to many places to research windows. This included Gazipur -- the small town just near our capital -- with its small windows, with two part wooden shutters, straight rod grills, and attractive hand-painted borders.

There was also Rupganj, a small village near Narayanganj, with their small double-shuttered windows. Sujan got some rare pictures from Satkhira and Khulna. These are of clay house with windows measuring 10”x2' some, 8”x3'.These are very sleek horizontal panels. The most interesting part is the use of bamboo sticks as grills.

One Khulna window was very interesting. A house owner hung a post box outside the window. It's a very interesting design. Some villagers used colourful green, blue, or red wooden panels for their windows. Colour is always a bright consideration for décor. We found a wonderful window at the Charukala Institute, Dhaka. It's a square, six-piece patch window with colourful cartoon motifs.

The window or 'janala' is really an escape patch from our busy lives. The famous lullaby “aye aye chad mama, teep diye ja; chader kopaley chad teep diye ja” is sung by all mothers to their children while they look at the moon through the window. Our windows indeed speak our heartfelt words.

Nazneen Haque Mimi
Interior Consultant
E-mail: journeyman.interiors@gmail.com
Photo credit: B A Sujan/Map


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