Written By Guest Blogger David Andreozzi, AIA
A young child looks up at a stained glass window, staring in wonder at thousands of different refracted colors from every part of the magnificent rainbow. Many holy figures stand tall in the portrait composed in the window above. It rises to the height of a seven story building, seemingly into the heavens. But more amazing is that the colors are alive and changing with every different ray of light that passes though every moving cloud and every moving tree. The dancing light allows the figures to glow, to change, to actually come alive in front of this child’s face. And then, looking down, the child sees that same myriad of beautiful colors bathing his skin in a new and abstracted tapestry from the colors above.
Staring at the colors on goose bumps, the child senses the heat from the rays of light that are refracting though the beautiful glass and radiating on his skin. It is the sun, the single thing that provides life to our universe, that is connected directly to the child’s soul, but all that is felt is radiating warmth. The particular type of religious figures in the window do not matter. The architectural style does not matter. All that matters is man’s connection to God through windows and light – using light to enhance one’s spatial experience.
Similarly, we use windows to connect spatial experiences in home design today. I consider each room as its own space with its own soul. Each room should have a unique spatial experience designed based on the very family that is going to use the space. Traditionally these individual rooms were inward facing and designed along an inner hallway. At that time, residential windows were small openings in the wall intended to provide natural light and ventilation. These openings were limited in size because artisans were limited in how big they could make a piece of glass. Further restricting was the single pane glass, which made it difficult to create large window openings without allowing precious heat to escape in the winter.
Today, many things have changed. First, the technology of insulated glass has improved over the last century – resulting in multi-pane insulated glazing. Secondly, inert gases and engineered coatings are now used within the sheets of glass. Both of these technologies have increased the performance qualities of contemporary glazing wall and allow for more windows in architecture without big efficiency sacrifices! Now we can connect the interior rooms in a home to the outside rooms in the yard. For instance, a back stone patio with a stone wall and low surrounding landscaping can be considered an outside room, and this improved window opening technology can allow that room to connect visually and spatially to the kitchen, breakfast, and family rooms.
Additionally, beyond connecting to outside space, there as a connection to nature: a harbor filled with boats, a myriad of sand dunes and whispering grasses, a landscape of mountains, or vista of rolling fields. Or, it could be as simple as a picturesque stand of white birches outside your window. This is where great architecture stands apart. The interior decorating, interior architecture, building architecture, and landscape architecture are all designed as one related series of events and spatial experiences.
In this way, a traditional window has become more than a device to let light in and allow for ventilation. It is an essential architectural building tool that connects a building’s spaces to the universe outside. The experience really comes full circle to that boy staring up in awe at that stained glassed window above. The difference is that technology allows modern architects to improve all the spaces in a home, in ways never before considered imaginable.
David Andreozzi, AIA founded Andreozzi Architects in 1988, which specializes in historically based residential architecture, expressive of its sense of place, attentive to its detail and proportion, and timeless in its beauty. David Andreozzi currently is the Vice President of the New England Institute of Classical Architecture and Art Board of Directors. David was the recent past AIA’s National Chair of CRAN, the AIA’s Custom Residential Architects Network. At CRAN, David spearheaded a project CRANtv, a series of short three minute YouTube videos intended to educate the public on the importance of investing in good design, and good architecture.
Andreozzi Architects www.andreozzi.com