From Frameless to Pivot: 20 Types of Windows for Architectural Design
When children first learn to draw a house, there are four basic components they illustrate: a wall, a pitched roof, a door and one or more windows. Along with the common structural elements, windows have always been considered to be indispensable architectural features for their multiple functions. While providing views, daylight and natural ventilation, these insulate from cold and heat, protect from external threats and enhance a facade’s appearance. They are also associated with a strong poetic or symbolic value; it is through them that we are able to connect with and enjoy our surroundings, be it a beautiful natural landscape or a dense urban environment. An expressive part of any building, windows serve as a visual bridge between the inside and outside, acting somewhat as a refreshing escape from our everyday routine.
With countless practical and ornamental functions, choosing the right type of window is critical and cannot be taken lightly. It must fit certain spatial requirements, address users’ specific needs and respond to pre-existing conditions like orientation, climate and location. However, the infinite options available in the market make the decision quite complex. Windows can vary in size, thickness, glass type, framing material, movement, sealing method and degree of transparency. And if the decision wasn’t already complex enough, modern technologies have also developed innovative glass features that range from fireproof panels to security and sound-proofing properties. Together and in various combinations, all of these factors can greatly impact ventilation, lighting, energy efficiency and safety, as well as define a project’s identity and aesthetic language.
To inspire architects, designers and homeowners during the selection process, below we present 20 different types of windows that can also be found in the Architonic catalog. These are grouped according to their opening motion, format, framing material and performance qualities –characteristics which, of course, can be combined in practically endless configurations.
Rotating on a vertical axis located in the center or offset from the frame, these swinging windows are characterized by their smooth, continuous movement and sleek, contemporary aesthetic.
As their name reveals, folding windows feature sheets that bend and snap together as they are opened. They can quickly and easily open up a space, integrating the exterior, providing uninterrupted views and allowing users to pass through them.
Casement windows are fixed to the frame by one or more hinges at the side, similar to conventional doors. Usually fitted in on single or double panels, these allow for full top to bottom ventilation when opened.
Awning windows are basically casement windows that swing vertically instead of horizontally. They are usually found in high or narrow places –such as above doors or other windows– and typically seal well.
Tilt windows lean towards a room, remaining fixed at the base. They can be opened when ventilation is needed, yet still maintain a high level of security and protection from the rain.
Widely used in kitchens and bathrooms, these windows feature a hinge mechanism that enables them to be opened in two ways: they can open fully like a casement window, or slightly tilt open inwards to create a small opening at the top.
Sliding windows open on a track horizontally, moving from side to side. Because these are easily controlled and require no additional space to operate, they are a popular choice for porches, patios and smaller, tighter rooms.
Windows that slide upwards are another great way to save space, which is a major asset for cramped spaces or anywhere one wouldn’t want to place an outward swinging window.
Down sliding windows also move vertically, but in this case point downwards to meet different spatial requirements. Thanks to new technologies, it is even possible for these to descend at the push of a button.
Since wood frames are susceptible to moisture and insect damage, they often require regular maintenance. However, they come from a renewable resource, are extremely versatile and offer a warm, timeless, nature-inspired appearance that is unmatched.
Although they can be quite heavy, steel windows are strong, secure and especially suitable for sleek and modern designs. They are also low maintenance, versatile and recyclable. In some cases, the frame actually has a timber core that is then coated in steel.
Vinyl windows are made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic material. They are widely used in various formats, standing out for their durability, insulation properties, cost-efficiency and low maintenance.
Particularly known for their sturdiness, aluminium frames can last up to 30 years. They are also 100% recyclable, thermally efficient and practically maintenance-free, which explains their popularity in many architectural settings.
Like a glass wall, frameless windows have no obvious frame around the perimeter. They may be entirely frameless –thanks to structural glazing technology– or use a minimal amount of framing. Either way, the resulting contemporary look achieves maximum views and transparency.
Fixed windows are those in which the sheets do not move and are fastened securely in position, hence framing views, accentuating design elements and maximizing light transmittance. Often, they are coupled with awning or casement windows to provide airflow.
Fixed or vented, skylights are essentially roof openings covered with glass. They can take on countless shapes, sizes and formats, creating a pleasant filtered light or a dramatic focal point effect that instantly draws attention.
With its classic geometry, the box-type format is one of the earliest forms of window in terms of shape. These usually have great sound and thermal insulation properties, which is always a plus.
Even though sound reducing windows aren’t able to completely block every noise, they can certainly make a room quieter. This can be achieved in a few ways: adding more window panes, increasing the distance between them or using laminated glass.
Made from several layers of toughened glass with intumescent interlayers, fire-rated windows will not break in the event of fire (unlike traditional glass windows). The outer layer of glass shatters when exposed to heat, causing the intumescent interlayer to expand and repel the flames.
Security windows use fortified glass that is specially designed to be less likely to break –and if it does break, it will do so in small, non-lethal particles. To ensure maximum security, the glass must ideally be coupled with security profiles and reinforced hardware.