Urban Computing : Window

window.jpg ((image: pmorgan ))

Windows give a frame of reference, crops a view, magnifies a perspective. It filters and blocks. Window is the opening that mediates here from there. I would argue that windows are what give walls meaning. Without windows, there wouldn’t be a notion of “there” since the possibility of something else on the other side wouldn’t exist without the opening. Windows provide a glimpse, a frame, a blur, a dimension of something more, a thought into a different time and space. A prisoner in solitary confinement opens a window in his mind to keep his sanity, while the Queen of England peeks out her picture frame window, checking the weather outside.

The biggest dilemma of the window is the opening itself. We’d like a filter. We want to see what’s there, but we don’t want to hear it, or feel it. Perhaps we have a level of control with the windows in our minds, excluding dreams, nightmares, and synesthesia (leaky mind windows), but physical windows are bound to the performance of material, a challenge since the beginning of windows.

Glass attempts to provide clear views, filter some light, block temperature, and baffle sound, all in the span of a 1/4″ section. We’ve come a long way since the small openings in 15th century castles, yet we still haven’t seen the holy grail of windows. Windows should be thin, structural, fully insulated, sound proof, malleable sheet material that can filter varying amounts of incoming light and views while remaining completely outwardly transparent. Oh, and it should be cheap, lightweight and sustainable. We have low thermal conducting material (Aerogel), fiber optic skylights (Parans Solar Lighting), lightweight skins (ETFE / Water Cube Skin), self-cleaning glass (Pilkington Activ), LCD privacy glass (Privalite), time-space warping windows (Khronos Projector), illuminating glass (Lumaglass), non-reflective glass (Luxar), breathing skins (Living Glass), living organic envelopes (Breeding Spaces), interactive storefronts (Displax), thin-shell frameless glass, the list goes on. So would a combination of these give us the ultimate window?