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Friday, April 3, 2009

What's in a Window?

Brytan has detailed set of architectural standards for its homes. In a high density neighborhood where the buildings engage the street, pedestrians come in close proximity to the architecture. For this reason, it is extremely important that the buildings have a sense of authenticity. How many times have you seen a building from a distance and then, as you get closer, something just doesn't seem right about it? It looks "flat" or somehow just not "real." In fact, many buildings today are constructed relying on applied detail to provide interest. At Brytan, we emphasis an authentic depth to the facade, meaning that materials should look like they are really doing the job they were intended to do and that the facades have an appropriate depth to create the shadow lines and details that you expect to see when you get close the the building.

One of the most important features is the window. You will notice in Brytan that the windows on the front of the houses look a little different. The architectural standards require that the windows have exterior "muntins" or grids, which cast a shadow on the glass below them and emulate the original structural purpose of the those pieces. You will also notice that the glass and sash are set into the wall rather than being flush with the exterior of the siding. This too is an authentic look that gives the window openings a "realness" and provides a shadow line and a window sill.

Most of Brtyan's windows are double-hung. That means that both the top and bottom sash are operable. Open the top sash and the bottom sash and it will naturally draw cool air in the bottom of the windows and push the rising warmer air out the top - a method that has been used for centuries to improve comfort level without air conditioning. Once you close the windows and turn on the HVAC system, though, you can take advantage of their modern advances: these are vinyl, high efficiency widows, with low solar heat gain and insulated glass. They have the best of the new and the old technologies.

When you think about it, windows are the primary way that occupants inside the building experience the outside. Doesn't it make sense to make them both beautiful and functional?

1 comment:

  1. I will always remember Andres Duany loudly stating, "muntins matter." Not that I really knew much about muntins or window designs but once someone points it out to you, you do start to notice what a difference muntins can make on a window. Rather than appearing flat and sort of a blank canvas, the muntins provide depth, interest and give the window and the wall it is mounted within a sense of character. Look around and start to notice windows. I think you will see that muntins do in fact matter. Jennifer, could you perhaps post a picture of a window with muntins and one without?