skylights and glazing innovations

skylights and glazing

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Simple living

The American Indigenous people didn’t have the modern luxury of a solid brick home with a roof, doors and skylight windows from Vitral. There were no glazing innovations back in those days, or any other modern amenities, that we take for granted today. But on the other hand: They didn’t have a mortgage to pay. And no water or electric bill to pay either, and certianly no worries if the wi-fi was working or not. You sometime wonder how life would have been like in those days. Simple and primitive – and yet free and uncomplicated?

The Native Americans were nomad tribes that travelled around the plains and followed the migration of the American buffalo – or the bison, which is its proper name. To the natives, these animals were the largest source of items such as food, cups, decorations, crafting tools, knives, and clothing.

Tipi skylights

They lived in ‘tipis’ – or ‘teepees’ – which were simple but very funcional tents that could be easily moved and set up wherever needed. A tipi was built using a number of long poles as the frame. The poles were tied together at the top and spread out at the bottom to make an upside down cone shape. Tipi covers were made by sewing together strips of canvas or tanned hide and cutting out a semicircular shape from the resulting surface. Trimming this shape yields a door and the smoke flaps that allow the dwellers to control the chimney effect to expel smoke from their fires. You could say that this was an primitive – but yet practical – form of skylight window. Old style traditional linings were hides, blankets, and rectangular pieces of cloth hanging about four to five feet above the ground tied to the poles or a rope.

When the tribe arrived at a new spot, the woman of each family would set up and build the tipi. Building a tipi was very efficient and typically only took around 30 minutes to set up. In the summer the covering would be raised to allow for a large gap at the bottom. This gap enabled cool air to flow through the teepee and keep the inside cooled. In the winter additional coverings and insulation such as grass were used to help keep the tipi warm. xqOnce again, the ubiquitous bison were used to provide hides for their beds and blankets, which also helped the natives keep warm during winter.