A round window in the wall of a home, drawing attention to itself and the landscape behind. It is not the most intuitive decision, but, given the proliferation of examples in social networks and media specialized in interior design, is earning the right to be taken into consideration. At this point, it is more than likely to find some of the most viral examples on Instagram that serve as an inspiration board and earn points for this, in principle, unforeseeable decision.
This is the case of the library window. the house of photographer Ana Hop in Mexico. A large circumference, with the window anchored in a central axis, lets in light from the outside while you can glimpse the treetops that surround the house. A circle inside a square. It is the shelves and niches of the bookcase that frame the circumference, limiting it to a square space and thus creating an interesting game of geometry.
Also following its own game of geometric shapes, a house in Famara (Lanzarote), designed by the German architect Alexander Bernjus, uses the contrast with the desert landscape to introduce unexpected and fun elements, such as sprinkle round windows on its walls. In Silver Lake (California), interior designer Emily Wassall also opts for a large round window under which to place a reading point. Meanwhile, in a house in Sydney, designed by the SJB studio, the circular shape is placed in the roofcausing light to spill from a skylight into a spacious double shower with terrazzo floor and a generous planter of monsteras. A roundel in a kitchen in London, designed by SELLA Concept, remembers that a window can communicate two interior spaces, and thus share the same light source. Some buildings have made the curiosity that these types of windows inspire into a distinctive sign and an argument to attract the gaze of the walker, who cannot help but feel the inclination to take a photograph. This is the case of the spaces designed by EEEStudio to the Educan dog training school, in the Madrid town of Brunete. There are examples in the history of architecture that are equal parts fascinating and dystopian, Nakagin Capsule Towerin Tokyo, by architect Kishō Kurokawa.
In the field of the cabins, where nature is more than just a setting and becomes an attraction and an essential part of the environment, the way in which it is introduced and participates in the interior space is key. The Portuguese studio Madeiguincho knew integrate them into a mobile home Designed for a family with two children. A round shape drastically changes the effect that window has on the space. One only has to think about how this type of porthole window immediately refers to the nautical imagination of ships or submarines, when it does not do so directly to iconic architectures of fantastic fiction that are part of the collective cinematographic memory, such as the house of the Hobbit adventurer Bilbo Baggins. A round window immediately invites you to become an observation point.
Advantages and problems
Some of the virtues of round windows are merely aesthetic, although they should not be detracted from them. The truth is that visually they are more interesting both for their unexpected factor and for the way in which they break with the monotony of straight lines that structures the interior of a house, as well as for their quality of instantly attracting the eye as a focal point of a space. With a slightly more functional aspect, another of its benefits lies in its ability to integrate more harmoniously into those small spaces, or walls with strange shapes. Maximizing narrow or difficult wall spaces is easier using them, where a window with straight lines could fit poorly or eat up the surface with less harmonious results.
However, its recurring problems are also related to its unusual shape. For example, their most common opening consists of a central axis, and you also have to take into account some foreseeable differences such as the fact that they do not have built-in blinds.
The members of architecture studios who are most fond of exploring new paths and betting on innovation and avant-garde forms are the first to feel seduced by the roundness of these round peepholes towards the outside world. This is the position of Delavegacanolasso, the studio made up of Pilar Cano-Lasso and Ignacio de la Vega. “We love this element because it breaks with convention and gives a unique character to the spaces,” she explains in statements to EL PAÍS. “It provides that touch of the nautical world that attracts us so much and that, combined with modern architecture, results in a rich and special aesthetic. There are truly beautiful examples, like Ana Hop’s house in Mexico. They are an opportunity to take care of the fastening and opening systems in detail. When the window is practicable, the shape of the opening plays a fundamental role in the way in which this type of windows are designed.”
The architects have chosen to integrate them into some of their projects, and they talk about this particularity of openness that represents, at the same time, its great functionality challenge. “It can be oscillating with a central axis, with a horizontal partition and opening on one side, or simply foldable,” explains Cano-Lasso. “In our case, we have experimented with a central axis system in the Menorca projectand designed a large fixed porthole and round folding windows to The burrow. From a technical point of view, we consider that it could be the most natural way to create a landing when a window opening is opened. It is the reason for arches, which by gravity distribute the loads homogeneously around the opening. Something very simple and intuitive.” In the case of the La Madriguera house/studio, in Madrid, the oculus or round window serves as a bridge with the outside for a project that advocates, as if it were a manifesto, to reclaim the privacy lost in the projection of houses. For its part, in the modular design of the Tini project in Menorca, in addition to contributing to the privacy of the bedrooms, the round windows on the white exterior wall reinforce a curious and modern result.
But the endorsement of professionals is no guarantee of having the support of clients who renovate their home or build a new one. Despite their visual benefits, their ability to be used, their proliferation among platforms and media that follow trends and their aesthetic appeal, the general public remains skeptical when it comes to integrating these oculus into their homes. “Unfortunately and with complete honesty, it is a type of window that is not well established and that, in general, clients do not want to use,” acknowledges Pilar Cano-Lasso. “We don’t know if it is because of conventionality, because there is not much understanding of curved shapes in general or because people only like what they see, they cannot imagine the space in a way beyond that with close references.”
Is it just a matter of getting used to looking at this new lens to the world or are there some doubts and fears of a technical nature that also act as a mental barrier when considering this element as an option in the design of a home? Its presence is multiplying among the references, time will tell if this trend of the most innovative in terms of shapes is followed by greater support in terms of consumer decisions.