Scandinavian Windows

November 15, 2017

Part 3: Apertures for Walking Through

One way to use an aperture is to pass physical things through it. In most cases apertures are installed at the border between an inside space and outside space. Through them people and things go in and out. When a space that was closed off is opened up and the inside and outside spaces are connected, everything changes. For example, many different kinds of stimulation from the outside such as fresh air comes flowing in, birdsong and the sound of waves can be heard, and you can smell the fragrant scent of flowers from outside when an aperture is opened. Conversely, people at times erase the border between the two spaces by bringing their activities outside. Examples of this are when people eat, read, or play musical instruments outside.

The apertures I will introduce in this article are ones that seamlessly link inside and outside spaces when they are opened, and are made for the purpose of allowing people to go in and out through them. Glass, with its translucence, plays a big role in these cases by visually erasing the border between inside and outside, or linking them together.


This residence, a major characteristic of which is the stretch of large windows that run along the wall facing the garden, is called Kokfelt House, and was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957. You can go in and out of the building by opening and closing the sliding and hinged glass door. The living room is a level above, and you can step outside to a wooden deck from there to gaze out at the sea. You can go out to the deck from each of the rooms on the upper floor, and you can descend to the garden from the deck with a set of stairs as well. One can imagine that they held garden parties and barbeques on the green lawn.

In Denmark at the end of the 1950ʼs many similar residences were built. Halldor Gunnløgssonʼs Own House (built in 1958) and Poul Kjærholmʼs Own House (built in 1963) are well known to use Japanese traditional architecture as references, but Jacobsen, who was always ahead of his time, integrated sliding doors and a garden facing deck into his residence even earlier than those two.

Not only in Denmark but also in other European countries the concept of sliding doors had yet to be invented. The Japanese fusuma, which allowed one to open up or close up a space flexibly, was a fresh, new idea for them. Many considered them modern and functional, and after the war they became quite fashionable. At the root of this phenomenon was the Japanese magazine “The Japan Architect,” which was published abroad in June of 1956 in English, providing many more opportunities for people to see sliding doors. A deck from which one might appreciate a garden can be accessed when sliding doors are opened, creating a buffer zone, or a “between space” so to say, that connects the inside and outside spaces.

October 18, 2017

Part 2: Apertures for View

Apertures have many purposes of uses. They are used as light sources, as ventilation, and as portals through which people pass. In each of these examples, they are opened to allow some physical thing to pass through them. However, apertures do exist for different purposes. Windows that use the translucency of glass in order to provide a line of sight to the outside from the inside, in other words, apertures that have been installed to allow one to enjoy the scenery, are one such example. Since they are not intended to be physically opened or closed, some of them are fixed windows.

1.”Windows that frame” – Cropping the View

1-1. Art Museum

If someone ask me, “What is your favorite art museum in the world?” I will no doubt answer “The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.” One of my favorite spaces in this museum is this exhibit room. The position of Giacomettiʼs sculpture never changes. What do change are the pictures on the walls and the scenery over the window. The view is framed so that it is just like a gigantic painting. Depending on the season, time of day, or weather, the scenery changes so that no matter when you go, it moves you and brings you joy. The “Walking Man”(Giacomettiʼs sculpture) is frozen in time for all eternity, but the scenery behind him is constantly changing.

September 20, 2017

Part 1: Apertures for Light

Fleeting and weak though it is, light in Scandinavia has a mysterious kind of allure to it. Could it not be that the peoples of Scandinavia worship the light of the sun precisely because it fades so easily?

I lived in Denmark for two years, from 2006 to 2008. Living there, I was surprised to find that most houses did not have curtains in their windows. People didnʼt seem to mind even if the inside of their houses were completely visible from the outside. Rather, they would decorate their windowsills with flowers or figurines and display their interior design with pride. That said, the most important purpose of this set up was to allow as much light as possible into the house.