Thursday, 9 September 2010

The window

We had a nice open space on the south facing wall, about 2.7m wide, or a ken and a half. A ken is a Japanese building unit, 6 shaku, two tatami mats long, that corresponds to one beam. A shaku is almost exactly one foot, 30 cm.

Outside the room is a terrace, and we'd like to link the inside space with the outside space, and be able to open up the gap in the wall. The problem is what happens to the windows when they open. They cannot just vanish. A sliding window would be all very well, and wouldn't take up much room space, but it would have to slide somewhere. This would only leave us half the window width to walk through.

Swinging doors would work, but two doors would have to be 1.3 m wide, and would swing into rather a lot of the room.

French windows seem like a good idea, but unfortunately the window construction doesn't last so well for windows that open outwards. This is perhaps something they need to work on.

Another problem with swinging doors is that there is a counter to one side of the window, and a gap through which to reach the kitchen. A swing door would block off this gap.

The solution we found was a concertina door, so there are three window panes, which open onto each other and slide up neatly to the other side from the counter. I say "neatly" but each window is over 10 cm thick, and when they pile up they will be 45 cm wide, and sticking into the room around 90 cm. This will still give us over two metres of gap, so for example we can sit around a table half inside and half outside.

So many decisions to make. We have to convince ourselves that each one was the right one!