November 23, 2015
Definition of Factoid : /ˈfakˌtoid/ (noun) A brief or trivial item of news or information.
Doors and windows are the most important architectural features of our homes and buildings. But, we often do not stop to think about them unless we are thinking of building or renovating our houses, and then we think mostly about their style, composition and energy efficiency…and the cost!
However, history is filled with amazing stories of fascinating doors and windows and our language and culture has many references and adages about them. We’ve always heard that: “eyes are the windows to the soul”, “no one knows what goes on behind closed doors”, “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”, and “when one door closes, a window opens”.
These quips about windows and doors illustrate how important these features are in our lives —they represent a passage into or out of spaces, a way to see things clearly, or a means to keep things private.
We’ve done some digging and come up with five amazing factoids — enjoy!
When Sculp [IT] architects Pieter Peerlings and Silvia Mertens renovated a tiered townhouse in Antwerp, Belgium, they envisioned an updated building that offered all three levels maximum natural light and views of the beautiful terrace below. The structure, named “Lalo”, features a pair of custom-made two-storey French windows that pivot out towards the back facing the garden. They weigh approximately 4 tons and are 19.7 feet high! That’s a lot of glass and quite the view!
From 1696 to 1891, residences in England were required to pay a window tax from 2 to 8 shillings depending on the number of windows. For example, the estate where Winston Churchhill was born, Blenheim Palace, has 1,000 windows, so the Churchills would have been required to pay a tax of 8 shillings (£48.43 or $73.55 US in today’s money). Some owners of large estates, at that time, chose to board up many of their windows to avoid paying the tax — that saved on cleaning costs, too!
Buckingham Palace, by comparison, has 1,514 doors and 760 windows — which are cleaned every six weeks to keep them sparkling.
Window cleaners have a much easier time in Washington, DC, as the White House has only 147 windows and 412 doors.
Many of our customers purchase large (very large) picture windows, or huge patio doors. They are beautiful pieces that offer stunning views and lots of natural light, but we haven’t even come close to building a door the size of the operating doors of Nasa’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The VAB was designed to assemble large space vehicles such as the massive Saturn V moon rocket that are used for manned space exploration. The high bay of the VAB, the tallest part of the structure, houses four vertical corridors. Each corridor has its own door which is 456 feet high — they are the largest doors in the world. It takes approximately 45 minutes for these doors to open or close completely. Wow!
If you follow Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art and science that explains how to balance the energies of your home to facilitate health and good fortune, you will find that windows and doors are important elements to consider when building or renovating your house.
This concept maintains that some window shapes are more favorable than others for facilitating the flow of chi in a positive manner. For example, a square or wide rectangular shaped window (earth element) will promote stability whereas a round window (metal element) fosters determination.
Another method of ensuring good Feng Shui in your home is to keep the walkways to your doors tidy and free of obstacles. This will, according to the practice, increase prosperity and wealth as the flow of chi will naturally follow the path from your door towards you and your family.
Doors and windows were important elements in ancient times, too. One of the earliest known deities in Roman mythology was Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. He was a key figure in Roman religious traditions and was known as the gatekeeper, the god of doorways. Janus watched over all entrances and passageways and was often depicted with two faces, because all doorways look in two directions.
There were five shrines built in Rome, to honour Janus, with the most important one situated at an entrance to the Forum. According to the mythology, the Roman army had to exit the Forum in the correct, prescribed, ritual manner in order to return victorious from war. It is believed that the bronze doors of this shrine were kept open during times of war so that Janus could aid the army in its fight, and would be closed only during times of peace.
These interesting factoids may come in handy the next time you play Trivial Pursuit! Do you know any amazing facts about windows and doors? Share them in the comments section below; we’d love to hear about them!
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