We all travel now. We know what houses look like in other countries. We’re familiar with the look and feel of a country, and how architecture and the buildings people live in vary across Europe.
They’re very different. So different you could drop anyone of us somewhere in Germany, and without seeing signs or hearing anyone speak, you’d know fairly well you were in Germany just by looking at the buildings.
You’d get it wrong occasionally, but usually you’d be right. You could do the same in France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, Greece and Britain.
Britain’s architecture is very different from the continent. There is extraordinary variation within the British Isles. Kent, Norfolk, the Cotswolds, Cheshire, North Wales, Yorkshire, Edinburgh and the Borders for example are recognisably distinct.
Windows, doors and buildings evolved together at a particular time, in a particular place. Britain’s architectural diversity is astonishing. People love it, and pay a lot to live in a house in the right place that looks as it was meant to be. That character, look and style is what planners protect.
That’s why windows and doors that were designed in Germany, for example, don’t always look right in British homes. They may be ‘British’ open-out casements, but the profile dimensions and detailing are approximations that were averaged to look right in post-1945 houses.
Most of us know when something looks perfect, even if we can’t put our finger on the reasons why. Our eyes see the subtle rightness of equal sightlines, for example. Homeowners pick up these differences straight away and choose windows that look right.
When I started my journey to Residence 9 (R9), I went back to the drawing board, researching windows and doors in different regions. I examined in great detail the Article 4 directions planners refer to. These set out the drawings, dimensions and details of what it is in our architecture that makes it unique and special. Then I designed R9 - a modern top-performing window for energy efficiency, weather and security - using these dimensions and detailing. So R9 windows are exactly what planners want - they look perfect in conservation areas. I designed them the way British windows and doors were meant to be. That’s why our marketing says they’re, ‘Windows and doors the way they’re meant to be’.
That also meant designing them to look lovely inside the home, as well as outside. Because we spend most of our time looking at the inside.
If systems companies are to satisfy planners, homeowners in older homes and conservation areas, and developers who want character in the homes they build, they’ll have to abandon their long-established systems’ platforms and go back to the drawing board. Starting with a blank sheet, we could take a completely fresh approach which has paid off with installers and homeowners. The market is massive.
Customers who’ve seen The Residence Collection we’re launching at the FIT Show say it’s beyond beautiful. These new windows and doors are British designs for British homes in their diversity. I expect them to transform large parts of the market.
Dan Gill, Chief Designer and MD
The Residence Collection