Openings in a building are considered as a breathing element for the building. The more fenestrations a building has, the more it is connected with the outside environment. A building is considered to be well lit and ventilated when there are enough openings based on the scale of the building. It is not only functionally important but it also determines the aesthetic quality of the building façade. It is believed that people who live in a well-ventilated building will comparatively lead a better and healthy life.
There are a few elements that can be added to make a space well-ventilated. Namely,
- Spatial Window
- Bay window
- Internal Courtyard
Sometimes the building is constrained to design without window opening. In such cases, Internal courtyards are used for air circulation as well as for the light. Designing of space also includes designing of openings based on the scale of the buildings. A simple opening can enhance the quality of the space. Most of them follow regular openings such as normal windows, instead, openings such as skylight, louvered windows, bay windows, etc., will work well in such space. Let’s examine a few spaces with special openings and normal ones.
Even a small boring space with less possibility of openness can be made interesting by using a skylight or a louvered door/window. The illustration shown below is a good example of such a space. The main door at the entrance, the louvered door in the mezzanine floor and skylight used above makes the entire interior space interesting and more lively.
Be it any scale, the openings determine the quality of the building. Both the interior and exterior phase of a building are influenced by them. In India, usually in buildings cross ventilation is achieved through ‘Internal Courtyards’. They have been noted to be derived from the origins of the Indus valley civilization. They have different names in India depending on the climate and the region. Namely:
In Kerala – Nalukettu
Rajasthan – Haveli
Goa – Wade Houses
Ahmedabad – Houses of Pol.
When history has had a good system of openings, it is time to revive them in contemporary buildings. Though community housing and apartments are being built on a large scale, the stereotype openings can be solved and designed according to space and function.
An opening can be designed based on the function that is being followed frequently in a space. For example, in a workspace one will sit and work most of the time. In such cases, it is advisable that the person works in an environment where they can connect themselves with nature. The results of such ergonomic workstations are comparatively best when compared with workstations that are closed and confined.
This is a beautifully designed space, where a person gets to sit and work facing the window, where the shutter of the window is used as a table while working and can be closed when it is not in use. The flooring can also be used as a table to sit and work. The window opening is not in standard size like in a contemporary workspace.
Be it small, large, colorful, monochrome, movable, fixed an opening can create an impact so strong that it can be used to identify a building. This is an exterior view of a school library in Auroville, where it is a double-height storey building and the openings are square-shaped windows that are placed at regular height intervals.
In order to cut down light usage during the day, enough number of openings are provided to allow plenty of sunlight. Since the library usually requires extra light, windows are designed in such a way that it does not create glare as well as it is not too dark for the readers.
The openings are arranged in a slanting order such that the sunlight is naturally distributed and the size is limited to small dimensions in order to cut down the harsh sunlight as Auroville receives plenty of sunlight during the daytime.
The function of the space can be designed for any age be it for youth, elders or even for children. One such example is found in a wall of a playschool in Auroville. The wall has punctured openings which acts as an informal seating space or as a storage space for the children. These openings make the space more interactive and it helps the children in better learning.
These are few observations that have been made, but there are plenty of options to design an opening for space. It only requires deep thinking and a detailed research process for the function that will happen in a particular space in the future. Ranging from small scale projects to even multi-storied buildings these simple methods can be followed to make space a better place to thrive.