Who knew louvres could be so interesting?
At Box™ we love our louvres – after all what’s not to love? In the North Island, where the climate is temperate, they allow natural ventilation while protecting from the sun and rain. That means win/win in most weather, including those endless spring showers.
Naturellement, the word is French in origin apparently derived from the noun l’ouvert ‘the open one’ and in medieval times referred, not just to the horizontal slatted windows we know so well, but to a lantern-like wooden cupola built into the roof to admit air and allow smoke from cooking or heating to escape. Another word for louvre is jalousie – again French and, it has been suggested, perhaps because one can peer through the slats and not be seen (like a jealous lover we presume).
The louvre is endlessly adaptable, both inside and out. The system is invaluable where airflow is important such as on toilet doors or walk-in wardrobes. The fact that louvre windows provide a more consistent airflow through the house makes any home healthier. Louvres in bathrooms allow steam to escape so there’s less reliance on an extractor fan. And, where privacy is an issue, they can be frosted to provide it – without blocking out all the natural light.
Outdoors, they are used to regulate the sun. Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was a louvre aficionado who adopted them as brise soleil on his buildings. They operated as a sun baffle to reduce heat gain and diffuse light. And a louvre roof above an outdoor room gives you more control over the vagaries of a New Zealand summer.
The Box™ design team loves louvres for all of the above good reasons – and more. Architecturally, when used in combination with casement windows and glass sliders, they bring a change of pace to the façade while a bank of floor-to-ceiling louvres in bathrooms somehow captures a resort feel.
Finally, a trick missed by most: louvres offer an opportunity to bring personality to a home. Multi-coloured Perspex louvres used at the entrance and in the bathroom of a Waiheke escape that we designed some years ago sparked more questions on our Houzz profile than we’ve ever received. Viewed from the outside, the panels in blue, red and orange brought a sense of playfulness to the scheme; inside they threw a rainbow-light artwork onto the floors and walls.