Prior to windows, if a human being wanted to see what she was doing, she had to work outside. With the invention of the window came an increased tendency for humans to perform their labors removed from the immediate forces of Nature.
“So what,” you might say. “One can grind grains into flour just as effectively indoors as out.”
But one, as demonstrate so ably by architect Rafael Viñoly, cannot design skyscrapers as effectively indoors as out.
Viñoly, a famous architect, got even more famous this week when his London skyscraper became a solar oven and casseroled a couple of cars parked nearby.
The tower is a brickish thing that Frank Gehry might design if he were a tepid and uninteresting architect. One of the glass sides is slightly concave. This probably looked great indoors, sculpted from foamcore and ringed with Q-Tip trees and miniature… Minis.
Ah, but Viñoly had forgotten about the Sun, the center of our solar system, of which our planet is inextricably a part. When the Sun interacts with this shiny, concave surface, its energy is concentrated and redirected. This architecturally enhanced sunbeam has cooked substantial elements of a Jaguar and a delivery truck this week.
(So I guess that’s another problem with windows. They can reflect, as well as transmit.)
I had to look him up, this man who forgot about the planet on which he plants his giant structures.
“My design philosophy is rooted in the development of architectural ideas that are powerful, distinctive, and relevant to the specifics of both program and context.” That’s what Wikipedia says he says.
“Architecture that is relevant to the specifics of context,” you say?
Context. It’s hard to hold onto, isn’t it? It is so easy to lose the forest for the trees. A million builders a year place houses in a way that fights the Sun instead of working with it. A billion humans a day leave open curtains that would cool their sweltering houses, were they only permitted to. We all lose track of the Context from time to time. Windows just make it that much easier.
Oh, this reminds me of one of my favorite places on earth: In Cappadocia, Turkey, people once carved cathedrals underground, where they could worship without interference from Infidels, Heathens, Persecutors, et al. They carved “windows” into the soft rock walls of these cave churches, and then applied “stained glass” made of fresco. The whole point of a window was subsumed, overwhelmed by the point of “pretty places where you paint Biblical Things.” Check out the row of “windows” high in this arched room.
My real estate business is over here: www.hannahholmes.net
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