Sunday, May 30, 2010

Treatments over Opening Systems

Keywords: doors, windows, port holes, skylights, gaps and gates / architects / interior designers / users / outside, inside and within the opening systems single systems / layered systems / integrated systems.


Openings are specifically intentioned and architecturally well detailed systems. Yet such architectural entities need to be customised and personalized according to the location, orientation, interior use and the user. Openings also need to be multi purpose system with various mechanisms and appendages. The mechanisms endow wide range of functionality whereas the appendages as applique treatments make an opening a personal entity.
Openings such as doors, windows, port holes, skylights, gaps and gates require many different treatments on the exterior as well interior faces. The treatments work individually in their own, or concurrently satisfy a complex set of requirements. The treatments enhance or compensate what an opening offers. The treatments are temporary or permanent, applique or integrated, and spatially partial or whole.

Window treatments are provided, first by the building designers -the architects, then corrected and added upon by the interior designers, and lastly improvised by the users. In each case the domain of action though the same, the choices, opportunities and expertise are very different. A designer as a rationalist looks for a comprehensive or universal solution, whereas a user realises and improvises each solution individually. A designer outputs circumstantially best solution through technical excellence, whereas a user looks for an outstandingly different result.
Wherever generalized opening systems are used, additional corrective, compensative co-systems are required. Such add on systems help customize the stylized or universal designs. Such appendages take place outside, inside and also within the opening systems. They are made to exist so close to the opening system that in many instances, almost merge or integrate into the base system. Though some systems coexist by staying apart and only for that reasons are effective.

# One of the first opening treatment was the cover placed over a gap for security, privacy, illumination and climate control. However, a single cover was not adequate to meet all the needs. The cover was required to have different types materials’ qualities and formations. Needs like illumination and climatic control required the shutter to be directionally manipulable so as to adjust to their continuous variations. The shutter of an opening system can be opened-closed in many different ways (hinged, pivoted, sliding) and positioned to various degrees of opening, and these allow the shutter to offer many options.

Openings’ treatments also help to integrate the openings to the larger context like the architectural entity, the building, the room, space unit, or the facade. The integration of the opening is done at several levels: by merging or contrasting the opening, by establishing, enhancing, diluting, or deleting the relationship amongst the openings, and by endowing some characteristic features for scaling, proportioning, a theme or style.

Half circle arched openings have a problem that height of the arch is dependent over the width of the gap. For openings of different widths, if the head point is matched then the base (spring point of the arch) varies, and when the springing line is levelled then head point of the arch varies. This problem was solved in Gothic architecture by use of pointed arch, and from then on all openings, whatever their width had common head point level.


Openings have been treated by many different means. Openings in thick walls were deep-set cutting off the illumination. This was corrected by splaying the sides, sills and in some instances the heads. The splayed sides were lined with light-coloured materials to reduce the glare. Large openings were lattice covered to diffuse the illumination.

An opening’s treatment systems primarily come into being as a corrective addition to an existing opening. The add-on facilities are necessary improvisations due to the changed circumstances or use. Over a period of time many diverse treatments’ systems accumulate, each trying for appropriate siting. Layering is the simplest way of placing several such systems. But it prioritizes the layers by sequencing them. Such assimilation often takes away the individual capacity of a treatment system.

Openings’ treatment systems, which are on different sides of the opening unit, are commonly difficult to coalesce into a single system. Similarly opening treatment systems that can function only if they remain at some distance from the opening unit or other treatments, may not be amalgamated. Opening treatment systems providing optional choices may need to function as individual system and so cannot be mixed. Yet assimilation of openings’ treatments systems lead to natural efficiency and so it is vigorously pursued.

Solar radiation and road side noises are better handled on the outside face and privacy and internal acoustics are better managed from inside face. As needs are realized, technology becomes viable, and economics permits, several window treatment systems are devised. The various solutions coexist in the same spatial location, or function by appropriate sequencing in time. Fixed glazing is simpler and efficient in controlling heat, sound and moisture movement and so ventilation is better managed elsewhere and by some other means. There are many situations where current technologies do not offer comprehensive solutions.

Openings’ treatments initially develop as a series of layers: shading devices and storm shutters on the outer face, glazed shutters, safety-bars as mid opening facility, and the mosquito nett, sheer and opaque curtains as the interior layers.

The spatial distance between individual systems is eliminated to assimilate the layered systems. And the sub systems are programmed to become functional when required. When several sub systems have some similar bearing like for example ‘the orientation’ or have common elements like the size, form, location, procedures for installation or removal, trigger for being functional, the assimilation process begins.

Some openings' treatments alter the character of the original architectural opening systems. Interior Designers may not have the authority over continuance, alteration, addition or removal of an architectural feature. Interior Designers have to devise a scheme to rectify the situation but only from the inside face. Such an exercise often proves futile, inappropriate and costly. Opening’s treatment systems provided on the internal face are often perceptible through the glazing and manifests as a changed outlook of the exterior side. In such situations the Interior Designer has to operate in coordination with the architect or provide an appropriate solution.

Interiors are susceptible to very frequent changes, compared to exteriors. Interiors change, because occupants age and change physically as well as psychologically. Other conditions such as social, cultural and economic are ever variable. Interior opening treatments are add-on systems or are made of easily replaceable elements. For sensorial variety interiors require opening treatments of tactile -sensorial finishes, and such systems inherently have a shorter life span. Internal treatment systems instead of passing through a process of integration are replaced by a new comprehensive system.

Openings' treatments once set, either remain in the same state or allow lots of variations. Variations may be triggered manually or automatically through some electro mechanical devices, programming or stored instructions, chemical or biological changes. Some variations are natural, like seasonal changes in vines and shrubs, breeze induced creases and falls in curtains and draperies, ageing or weathering of wood, stone.

Openings' treatments, when designed as demountable and replaceable or add on systems, allow technological up gradation, style improvisation and choice variations. Such openings’ treatment systems have a shorter life span and no effort is made to achieve a comprehensive entity. Integrated openings' treatments are longer lasting.

Opening’s treatment as a masking element, frame the opening itself, and also the view through it. Openings that are proportionateley smaller require a larger surround or framing to highlight their presence. The surrounds are simpler linear forms but gates have cubical forms such as: towers, abutments, ramparts, bulwarks, bastions, bastilles, battlements, belvederes (chhatri), buttresses, campaniles (bell-tower), etc. to signify their presence. The openings also frame the view through them. Squarish gaps are round edged by overlapping patterns through lattices, ornamentation and glazing. Divisions in double hung sash windows were originally meant to use smaller glass pieces of inferior quality and clarity, but later continued for the sake of framing the view. The view through an opening is partially revealed, concealed or camouflaged through framing patterns, overlays and lattices, but most importantly by the quality of glazing.

Some of the negative factors that affect the design and conception of an opening’s treatment system are: elaborate styling, re-adaptation of past manners, use of one raw material to reflect the sensuality of another material, extensive or overuse of make-believe techniques, use of many materials and finishes, fast developing and extensive demand for novelty, demands generated by propaganda, over standardization, over simplification, non availability of replaceable components, low degree of designed replaceability.

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