Penn State

Ute Poerschke - Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Building Openings Construction Manual: Windows, Vents, Exterior Doors

Author: Jan Cremers

Book Description:

Labeling the books of this fine architecture series, published by Birkhäuser, as “manuals” is quite an understatement. The title “manual” suggests that these books — addressing, for example, façades, glass and concrete constructions, and energy efficiency — instruct professionals, academics, and students in the field of architecture on how to put building elements together in code-compliant, technically correct ways in order to avoid being chased by lawyers for construction failures. But instead of being how-to books, they confront the reader with the diverse cultural, historical, place-based, ethical, aesthetic, scientific, technical, physical, and sometimes metaphysical implications of the topic at hand. Studying these books points you to the very task of architects: to create meaningful wholes by joining physical parts. The manual on building openings might be the most fundamental of them, as windows and doors necessarily and meaningfully engage the human being. Windows and doors are thresholds that define an inside and outside and sometimes, if deep enough, an in-between, thus creating liminal experiences for human beings. The examples included in the manuals take you on expeditions to the architects’ work of constructing objects and spaces to allow such experiences.

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