Inspired by the genius of architects throughout history, photographer André Vicente Gonçalves set out to capture one part of that genius for the world in his latest collection. Called “Windows of the World,” the collection zeroes in what Gonçalves sees as the source of a building’s personality—its windows.
Though in every era, architects have dazzled with their ability to transcend the status quo to achieve timeless beauty coupled with efficient design, it is in the building’s windows that it comes to life, says Gonçalves. Because they serve as a bridge between nature and the building’s interior, they bring nature’s vitality inside the building. How they create that bridge defines the personality of its builder—and those who commissioned him.
Humility—or a lack thereof—in a building’s original owner often reflects in the building’s windows. The plain, rustic windows of a peasant dwelling contrast with those of a palace, whose royal owners demonstrate their power and wealth with flashy, opulent windows with intricate design and gilt trim. Others, following Frank Lloyd Wright’s lead, create buildings whose windows extend the occupants’ line of sight way beyond the physical boundaries of the home to encompass nature itself.
One small glass pane that separates the exterior from the civilisation inside. Security. A safe place from which one can view the world beyond. The way in which every architect, every owner has visualised that barrier inspired Gonçalves to showcase the sheer variety of that vision. Across cultures, across time, window designs have evolved and adapted, much as humankind itself. That evolution formed the basis of this work.
During his study, Gonçalves discovered that not only do buildings themselves have a distinctive identity, but cities, too, have their own design aesthetic. As in individual buildings, that distinction shows its face best through the city’s various windows. As a result, Gonçalves chose to showcase his collection city by city, highlighting the subtle differences that separate one city’s windows from another’s.
Gaze into the tiled windows of Lisbon and see the white facades of Alentejo. In the Azores, Sao Miguel’s windows incorporate local volcanic rock into their design—closing the gap between nature and civilisation even more.
It’s not always the most famous windows, nor the most lovely, who tell the best stories. Often, it is the well-worn windows that best reveal a building’s story. The laughs, the loves—the ravages of war—all add to that building’s intrigue.
A far cry from humankind’s earliest windows—simple holes in a shelter’s walls—city windows show the sheer variety into which this design element has involved. This collection of photographs showcases that variety with its careful study of urban architecture throughout the world. City by city, readers can see the subtle differences in each city’s cultural aesthetic as displayed by its windows on the world. Travel around the world without leaving the comfort of your home through the pages of this book. Peer through its windows, and see a glimpse of each city’s history and long-forgotten cultures.