For some, being fashionable is all about wearing this year’s colours and following the latest celebrity trends. Fashion is fickle and, particularly when it comes to clothing and accessories, fashion can mean a new wardrobe twice a year. Others take a different view, saying they will not follow fashion, claiming to have no need to copy other people as they have their own style.
‘Fashions fade, style is eternal’. Yves Saint-Laurent
Fashion is not a word that is generally associated with buildings. Instead, one speaks of style as being characteristic of a certain time or place. Buildings endure, and among the housing stock in the UK, we are fortunate to have many different styles of property to choose from. Whether you prefer the chocolate-box thatched cottage, the red-brick Victorian, the 1930s bay-fronted property or something entirely more modern that might feature on Grand Designs, there really is something for everyone.
Just as the styles of houses tend to be specific to a period in time, so too have the windows and doors in those houses changed over the years. The afore-mentioned chocolate-box cottage will often have small timber windows, the red-brick Victorian will have sash windows, the 1930sbay-fronted property will usually have windows with fanlights and the Grand Designs style of property will often have lots of glass.
Today’s new builds have a character of their own, taking on a more continental style. Timber cladding on sections of the outside wall is not uncommon, with windows tending to be large with hardly a transom or mullion in sight. At the rear, we see large sliding patio doors or bi-fold doors, and often some sections of glass walling that stretch from floor to ceiling.
It is no coincidence that in much of this new build there is not a uPVC window to be seen anywhere. It is certainly the case that many people simply don’t like white plastic windows, but architects and home owners are also like-minded in their desire to be able to look through windows and doors and not look at them. Wide expanses of glass with no transoms or mullions to obstruct the view means choosing a frame material that is inherently strong enough to bridge much wider openings than uPVC or even timber could manage. Aluminium is the material of choice – not only do the maximum window and door sizes far exceed those of timber and uPVC, but the frame profiles can be much narrower too, further maximizing the glass area and letting in more natural light.
Future generations will undoubtedly look at these properties and be able to attribute the style to this decade. What is perhaps more exciting is the fact that the properties featured on Grand Designs often include architectural glazing, large sliding patio doors, big picture windows and roof windows. All are designed to let in the maximum amount of daylight and to offer unobstructed views. All tend to be made with an aluminium frame.
While property styles may change from one decade to the next, it seems likely that our desire for bright, airy homes with lots of daylight and unobstructed views will be more enduring. The future is bright indeed!