The Window: A Journey of Art and Architecture through Windows – the Exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Imagine if there was such a thing as windowology. What would it look like, and what would it tell us? In Japan, the “Window Research Institute” was founded in 2013 by YKK AP, one of the leading windowdoors manufacturers, and was re-established as a foundation five years later to conduct researches surrounding windows, which is, according the them, about “civilization and culture.” As far-fetched as it may sound, it is actually true. Windows are part of architecture which is one of the major endeavors of civilization/culture. It is what humans create either to defy the threats of, or take advantage of, otherwise unpredictable and uncontrollable nature. And windows are gateways that physically, metaphysically and philosophically connect human endeavors with the surrounding nature.
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT) is currently co-hosting an exhibition “The Window: A Journey of Art and Architecture through Windows” (Through Feb 2, 2020) with the Window Research Institute, where they go beyond architecture to investigate windows for various unique perspectives.
Windows according to architects
In order to understand windows in a literal sense, it would make most sense to turn to architects to ask what they are.
In Europe, where architecture was founded and developed, walls bore the load of the structure. As this limited the flexibility for windows, the interior traditionally had to be explicitly separated from the outside environment. But modern technology and mindset changed the role of windows drastically, as industrial materials such as concrete, steel and glass enabled large, transparent and uniquely designed windows, and people started enjoying a more open/transparent/fluid society.
Erik Gunnar Asplund, Interior perspective for Woodland Chapel showing the altar and catafalque, Woodland Cemetery, Stockholm, Sweden, 1918-21
Le Corbusier, Interior sketch – window, 20th century
J.J.P. Oud, Elevation for Kiefhoek Housing Estate showing the exterior colour scheme, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 1925-29
Dutch architect J. J. P. Oud was influenced by the De Stijl movement, one of the first minimalist art movements in modern history. His windows designs features clean, expansive horizontal lines and intersecting short vertical lines.
Peter Eisenman, Axonometrics for House IV, Falls Village, Connecticut, USA, 1970-1971
In this project, a limited set of rules (shift, rotation, compression and extension) was applied to a limited set of elements (cubic volume, vertical planes and spatial nine-square grid). This transformational method establishes a code of spatial relationships within the syntactic domain of architectural language.