23 May 2014

Getting Windows Right

It’s sad to see something as basic and low-tech as windows not done properly.

First, let me state the obvious: the purpose of windows is to let the breeze in while keeping the rain and the sun out.

Let’s see how windows perform against these goals.

To begin with, the sliding windows we use everywhere always block half the area of the window, rather than letting in breeze through the whole area.

Then, in summer, when you close the windows and/or draw the curtains to keep the sun out, you’re also blocking the breeze. Instead, we should use blinds or slats so that we keep the sun out while letting the breeze in. Just adjust them to the correct angle, facing the sun, so that they block the sunlight completely, while letting in the breeze.

This applies when it’s raining as well. Angle them facing down and out, so that water drains out, while you still get the breeze.

Then, windows as big as possible, in both dimensions — every window should be a floor-to-ceiling window unless there’s a specific reason why that won’t work. And they should extend more to the left and the right.

Big windows make a room feel airy. You can’t control the view outside, but you can make the most of it. It’s stupid to pay crores for apartments with good views while building apartments that block out the view by having smaller windows than they could have.

There should also be ceiling-level windows, on all walls that face outward, and again as wide as possible, running the entire length of the wall. Hot air rises to the top and will be expelled by these windows, keeping the room cool.

It’s a shame that rather than adopting these common-sense ideas, we waste tens of thousands of rupees on artificial air-conditioners, which harm the environment.

It’s sad to see that these ideas are not widely adopted, as best practices for architecture.

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