The Window as Intermediary Space

The Window as Intermediary Space

      The imagination represents one’s capacity, as a human being, to create new images or ideas based on perceptions, portrayals or concepts previously known. The images that result are the byproduct of the imagination and are directly linked to each individual’s experience.
      If we were to try and summarize architecture or an architectural object we would notice that it’s impossible because are left with fragments, fragments which are able to access a certain part of our memory, be it personal or collective. The “I Like it” feeling is also a result of previously gathered images, voluntarily or not, which resonates with the architectural object.
      One of the prime images to which architecture calls constantly is that of light, in conjunction with the exterior, with the demiurgical, the mystic, image which is filtered in different ways but keeps true to its core.
     Cave paintings are a projection of the exterior done on the inside and an image of the universe through the standpoint of human condition. This is an ingenious idea of overcoming itself through mimicking creation.
    The observation that a painting is similar to a gaze through an open window dates from the Renaissance and is specific to the period in which this type of imitation was being tried out. This sort of approach is unfamiliar but contrasts with the mimicked object. From the creator’s standpoint there’s an automatic limit of observation that is imposed, in which the instinct vanishes and is replaced by omniscience, by the genius mind. The limit remains but ascends to a whole other dimension. The demiurgical omnipresence is replaced by transience, omniscience by instinct and instinctively, light’s presence can represent an advantage when the unknown gets explained, but can also represent a disadvantage when the unknown is unfiltered by known or manageable elements. The window is such a filter, an intermediary space, a gateway between two worlds, a mirror in which humanity recognizes its uncontrollable or genius essence. When the exterior could not be contained then it would be cheated bringing it to the illusory level and essentially creating the illusion of control. The painting metaphor organized following a certain core perspective, like in the case of a window, in which certain fragments of an exterior world are revealed is not strange for neither greeks nor romans, and a testimony to this would be the paintings from Herculaneum or Pompei but appears mostly in the Renaissance. ( eg: the famous ceiling painted by Andrea Mantegna at the degli Sposi room of the Ducal Palace in Mantova).

herculaneum pictura                   herculaneum picturi                   andrea mantegna palazzo ducale mantova

      Instinctively, the limited condition or posing as the creator himself is accepted, fact which brought about a dishonesty in the presentation and paintings start representing the former subject, that of the window, but from a more honest perspective, which comes closer to the genius through accepting that it’s impossible to reach it because of its sheer complexity and tries to call out towards the human ability to build connections based on pieces from already existing images. As such, another posture of the intermediary space of the window emerges – the window which is no longer devoted to reality but to the creator’s identity and imagination. ( eg: H. Matisse or Josef Alberts)


      Gradually, the instinct to overcome the limit changes into surpassing it through accepting its existence, the human reaching the condition which he was trying to actually portray. The limit is overcome by inverting the window’s role. It is no longer a transitionary space for the exterior towards the interior but for the interior towards the exterior and man gets to mistake the representation because he is placing himself instead of the painting through admitting his own position, that of a watcher of a small fragment of reality (eg: René Margritte’s works).

rene margritte                   rene margritte 2                   images

      If in art the way of looking at a window goes through a tedious and complex process, architecture relates to this space similarly but not identically. Windows are observed in a much more empirical way, the similarity becomes the evidence in tackling their space, which keeps betraying the developing stage of its creators.

      The window’s space suffers a transition from a state of necessity and outcome of interruption of the structure to a state in which the architectural object betrays its initial purpose and transforms into a detail, a fragment which was previously part of the window. The controversies regarding the window’s area have shifted, in the modernist age, towards complex studies regarding its shape and how appropriate it is for living. We can refer to the debates between Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret, regarding vertical and horizontal windows. An approach to recover the window’s area is however clear only with Louis Kahn, which shows a disparity between architecture and art, an obvious gap even in today’s living standards.

a perret                   le corbuisier

      If the window’s space is observed as a portal, the idea that its function can be inverted is also accepted, as easily as it changes its role during the day/night cycle and when the unavoidable question pops up: do the “glares” have to remain identical?