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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Fenestration

Fenestration is an architectural term that refers to the design and placement of windows on a building or façade. It’s easy to overlook the amount of thought and planning that goes into determining how to lay out a home’s windows. The uninitiated could easily assume that it’s simply a matter of choosing the location for your door and then spacing the windows out equally across the remaining area. But as we intend to show you in this post, the process of fenestration is actually much more complex.

Why Do We Use Such an Unusual Word to Talk about Window Placement?

The English word for ‘window’ actually comes from the Old Norse word, vindauga. Vindr meant ‘wind’ and ‘auga’ meant eye. It was the eye through which wind entered the house. But as with most English words, there was also an equivalent that came from the Romance languages (i.e. Latin).

Most of the Latin-based words in English came from the language that later became French. In modern French, the word for window is fenêtre. As you can see, that word has the same root as ‘fenestration’. English words with a Latin background tend to sound a bit more formal, which is why this word is used to talk about the science or technique behind window placement.

What Does Fenestration Entail?

According to This Old House, windows play three important roles in home / building design:

  • They influence and even change the appearance of a building.
  • They establish a connection between the indoor space and the natural world beyond.
  • They allow light and (in some cases) air into the house whilst protecting against the harsher elements.

When an architect or designer is determining where to place the windows in a building, they have to take all of these variables into account. In that sense, the fenestration process plays a crucial role in everything from the aesthetic look of a house to the comfort level and convenience of those living inside.

When the fenestration for a building is well-done, you’ll barely even think about the windows. But it’s when the architects have failed in some aspect that people really begin to take note. You may find a particular room to be dimly lit even when the blinds are thrown open. Or the opposite could occur, and you end up with a glaringly bright room.

Fenestration and Energy Ratings

Finally, fenestration can also affect the energy rating of a building. In fact, there’s even a British Fenestration Ratings Council (BFRC) that has been set up to measure the thermal performance of windows. BFRC has established the window efficiency ratings (WER) scale, which rates windows from A (highest) to G (lowest) in terms of energy efficiency.

Placement certainly plays a role in how well a window performs in terms of energy efficiency. But the selection and type of window is even more important. Our PVC-u windows perform particularly well in this regard. They achieve an A rating on the WER scale, making them a top choice for energy-conscious building sites across the UK.


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