Windows, Old and New


Windows of all shapes and sizes, and from different countries and periods of history, are the subject of the free photos in this edition of the pictures-newsletter. The word ‘window’ comes from the Old Norse vind + auga (literally ‘wind eye’), which is exactly what the earliest windows were: an opening in the ‘face’ of a hut which let light in, enabled the inhabitants to see out, but also let in the wind.

The technique of making glass from white silica sand was not widely known in Europe until the first century BC, although it had been used in the Bronze Age for making beads and other decorative items, and had been known to the Chinese centuries earlier. Before that date, windows were covered with thin hide or cloth stretched over the opening, or in some countries paper or even thinly sliced marble. All of these methods must have been unsatisfactory from the point of view of the amount of light they obscured, and the weather they let into the dwelling. The earliest windows using what we would call glass today were constructed from small pieces of translucent glass held together by lead strips. Although the most luxurious Roman villas had begun to use glass in their windows, it wasn’t common in ordinary people’s houses in Europe until the 17th century. In England, a tax on windows was first introduced in 1696 and not withdrawn until 1851, in spite of the fact that it was regarded as a tax on health, because it encouraged people to block up their access to light and fresh air to avoid the tax.

Even when windows weren’t taxed and glass-making had been improved, windows continued to be a problem, because they allowed heat to be lost from the building and were vulnerable to entry by thieves. ‘Double glazing’, the technique of mounting two sheets of glass in a frame with a vacuum between them, both reduced the energy lost and made windows more secure. It was perfected in America in the 1930s, but was only used on the most expensive houses until UPVC systems devised in Germany made replacement cheaper in the 1980s. In the late 20th century the most energy conscious nations in Europe and particularly Scandinavia began the introduction of triple glazed doors and windows. Modern windows are filled with argon or krypton gas, which reduces energy loss, and ‘Low-E glazing’ has a surface coating which can filter out up to 70% of heat loss, while not restricting the passage of light.

The huge variety of window shapes and styles in my free pictures shows the range that became available to architects as glass technology developed. Mullioned windows allowed large windows to be created using smaller pieces of glass, and the invention of float glass by Alastair Pilkington, and toughened glass in the 20th century enabled the use of floor to ceiling windows and doors made entirely of glass. The steel frame and glass building became possible and allowed the construction of ‘sky scrapers’, which brought its own problem of cleaning the window surface, solved first by window cleaners working in suspended cradles, then by the invention of ‘self-cleaning’ glass. As glass became more varied and flexible, architects began to use windows as decoration, as many of the pictures show. It is often possible to date buildings from the style of their windows, and householders add window boxes and other decoration to beautify and individualise this now universal, but still developing, architectural feature.

06_window.jpg (220177 Byte) window picture photo 03_window.jpg (240591 Byte) window picture photo flowers 04_window.jpg (228626 Byte) window picture photo architecture_18_riegelbau.jpg (165484 Byte) window picture photo
architecture_16_oldwindows.jpg (165345 Byte) window picture photo old-windows.jpg (154772 Byte) window picture photo 02_window.jpg (205306 Byte) window picture photo 05_window.jpg (176857 Byte) window picture photo
window-cz2g.jpg (161620 Byte) window_leafs.jpg (204568 Byte) window picture photo windows-2z2t.jpg (183533 Byte) window_grating.jpg (180410 Byte) window picture photo gitter fenster
windows-k8ld.jpg (122963 Byte) stock photo windows-fenster-7zu.jpg (147089 Byte) windows-ykb5.jpg (149986 Byte) fenster geranien bild window architecture_21_windows.jpg (187768 Byte) window picture photo fensterfront
window-knha.jpg (230173 Byte) window-cats-hg65.jpg (154862 Byte) picture window fenster windows-96tn.jpg (196240 Byte) picture window fenster windows-tj7d.jpg (162364 Byte) picture window fenster
window-clothes.jpg (206428 Byte) windows-jlo2.jpg (126831 Byte) windows-k04d.jpg (209706 Byte) window-0y4m.JPG (160462 Byte)
windows-i014.jpg (179823 Byte) windows-7z84.jpg (134349 Byte) windows-8olp.jpg (149762 Byte) windows-zl3s.jpg (149553 Byte)
windows-lhsq.jpg (156665 Byte) windows-b5u7.jpg (153185 Byte) windows-hj7f.jpg (150544 Byte) windows-9l67.jpg (108885 Byte)
windows-ykk3.jpg (151626 Byte) pick windows-yix2.jpg (144192 Byte) picture window windows-yul3.jpg (158073 Byte) windows-33kd.jpg (135721 Byte) picture window photo
windows-h6ly.jpg (167062 Byte) windows-nbv6.jpg (131644 Byte) window-3yzk.jpg (145285 Byte) picture window fenster window-g57j.jpg (117686 Byte) image window
windows-18i9.jpg (212148 Byte) windows-xg6j.jpg (159148 Byte) windows-842j.jpg (168485 Byte) window-hue2.jpg (116919 Byte) picture photo window
windows-g62w.jpg (149703 Byte) pictures window windows-j7u4.jpg (121955 Byte) windows photos window-ay3f.jpg (107387 Byte) windows-t83h.jpg (135282 Byte) photos windows
window-f8w1.jpg (114133 Byte) window-h3o.jpg (201099 Byte) windows-u2b.jpg (188355 Byte) windows-nz71.jpg (182380 Byte)
window-lamp-i5v.jpg (120026 Byte) house-j3k4.jpg (118332 Byte) windows-6b2.jpg (113961 Byte) windows-c39q.jpg (111805 Byte)
window-kb3v.jpg (129785 Byte) windows-h3.jpg (142629 Byte) window-75u4.jpg (143270 Byte) window-t6q.jpg (93478 Byte)
windows-n7h2.jpg (139520 Byte) window-73k.jpg (121503 Byte) windows-tz42.jpg (138067 Byte) windows-ztw6.jpg (106146 Byte)
architecture_17_window.jpg (219445 Byte) old  window picture photo window-6v1q.jpg (100617 Byte) window-cx83.jpg (162250 Byte) windows-h6x9.jpg (111651 Byte)
window-br9t.jpg (108826 Byte) window-j3s1.jpg (99677 Byte) window-x21k.jpg (161072 Byte) house
windows-cz3.jpg (105998 Byte) flowers-windows-7n2.jpg (156560 Byte) windows-c5t1.jpg (106140 Byte) window-mirror-v2c.jpg
window-vhb5.jpg house window-c4qw.jpg (95731 Byte) building
old style round roof old house
office building abbey Casino Zug frogs
window decoration glass crate