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A short history of windows and their impact on architecture

Ever since the caveman left a gap between rocks in the front of his cave to let light in and smoke out, the very idea of a window has changed out of all recognition, mainly because the history of windows has gone hand in hand with the history of architecture.

Today’s modern buildings still depend to a great extent on what’s possible in window design and production, but now it isn’t simply a matter of fitting glass inside a frame, but means considering energy efficiency, innovative frame materials and even the position of the sun at different times of the year.

When did windows first appear?

All the way back in the 13th century BC, the earliest windows were simply unglazed openings in a roof to admit light during the day. This was in the days, before the development of early glazing techniques, when it was common practice in the Far East to fill window spaces with thick paper, loosely-woven fabrics, or a variety of other materials. 

When were glass windows invented?

The history of putting glass in windows starts around two thousand years ago in Alexandria, Egypt. That early ‘glass’ was thick and fairly opaque stuff that would have allowed light in, but was not easy to see through. It took another thousand years before a glass window became transparent enough to look out of. 

In England, window ‘panes’ of flattened animal horn were used as early as the 14th century, while glass became common in the windows of ordinary homes only in the early 17th century, when Wooden window frames were made in timber, and windows were made small enough to suit the glass.


Early UK timber frames.

In the 13th century, wooden window frames in the UK got their name from the Old Norse phrase for wind-eye, as this originally described an unglazed hole in a roof. Then timber sash windows were developed in the Netherlands in the late 17th Century, and these were constructed in roughly the same way they are now.

Since then, a number of different varieties of wood are used for timber windows, with oak as the first choice, and later mahogany and imported softwoods.


Modern day windows.

Today’s windows have evolved to incorporate some earlier features that have proved their worth, and been joined by innovative new technologies and materials such as uPVC and aluminium that Fred Flintstone could never have dreamed of.

Since the first sealed double-glazed unit was developed in the US in the 1930s, double and triple glazed windows have become a common feature, able to produce exceptional thermal performance figures.

The Residence Collection.

You’ll find all these innovative materials and design features in the Residence Collection’s suite of thermally and acoustically superior window and door systems. With their authentic design, the Residence Collection are also a leader in timber effect windows and doors for those seeking a more traditional look, besides featuring the latest security, maintenance and performance innovations.



At Residence Collection, we have a range of colours available and can offer everything from timeless classics like Grained White to modern favourites such as Eclectic Grey. Don’t forget, we also offer a dual finish that allows you to find windows and doors that look as good from the inside as they do outside.