The window is one of the life-changing constructions that contributed to the prosperity of humanity all over the world. Many steps were taken throughout the years, in order to make windows an integral part of every building.
The first changes that shaped the modern window
The first changes came from the industrial sector. At the end of 19th century, the fire protection became a priority in building design. The hollow core sheet metal window covered these needs and gained popularity. Its installation took place in new and older buildings, replacing the wooden frames. It is worth mentioning that iron windows prevailed on the large-scale constructions of that era, while steel had started to grow in usage through the processing that Henry Bessemer proposed back in 1855.
The 20th century
At the dawn of 20th century, the developments on the construction field allowed the wide usage of glass surface, while the technology of that period opened the road for steel framed windows with minimum required structural width. Those windows were significantly popular, due to their construction flexibility, their extreme robustness and the amount of natural light that passed through them in the factory facilities.
During the decade of 1910, the windows with iron or steel frame prevailed. They also had a sheet of glass which was divided in two sides. The upper side of the glass usually had 4 parts – divided by 3 mullions – while the bottom side had a unified glazing.
From the 1920s and further, the frame development goes hand in hand with the upgrade of glazing technology. Thus, there is increased usage of glazing with smaller partition beams and as a result the aesthetic and practical value is improved.
During the 1930s, aluminium makes its appearance on the windows of the era. It was a period that wood and steel were the prevailing materials and aluminium became the third choice, gaining crucial ground in the market share. Aluminium of that era was much thicker than today’s frames and there were construction efforts to make it resemble wooden and steel surfaces. The first building with high levels of aluminium in its structure was Empire State Building in New York City. The tower, which was completed in 1931, kept the record as the highest skyscraper in the world for 42 years.
Throughout the years, the architectural progress and technological development on the glazing field helps aluminium to become the favorite choice for architects around the world. Its advantages include: 100% recyclable material, vast surface treatment options, maximum durability against corrosion and other damages, lightweight as a material.
Alternative materials and new glazing technologies
Apart from aluminium, another material that gains popularity during the 1980s is uPVC. Plastic frames were considered a decent option, due to their low cost and energy performance. On the next decades, the aluminium frames capitalized on thermal break technology and in several cases they surpassed the competition (e.g. PVC or other metals) regarding energy performance. Also, the achievements on the construction field provided the chance for wider window spans. The light in a space is a prerequisite for every contemporary construction, while sliding windows – which support wide windows and patio doors – are in the center of the modern trends of the period. Moreover, the sliding windows help to save space in city apartments, thus they are perfect during the intense urbanization that were occurring.
The future for the window
During the 21st century, the minimal look dominates the architectural design around the globe. The windows become larger and more spectacular and at the same time even smaller frame width is required. The aesthetic value reaches higher level and the efficient energy performance pushes window companies to search for new technologies, that will provide higher thermal insulation, water and air – tightness levels, sound proofing and anti-burglary resistance.
The modern window is a significant part of every residence. Now more thatn ever, there is a wide variety of materials and typologies available for every customer. However, we should always remember that a well-constructed window should offer three simple things: 1. protection from weather conditions
2. protection against potential burglars and
3. natural light on the interior.
The window still remains a timeless innovation that keeps developing its features and improving our daily lives.