Arches, curves, and circular shapes are a wonderful way to add elegant features, maintain character, offer some extra authenticity, or simply achieve a unique design. As professional joiners, we are able to create (and install) bespoke timber windows to match any size and shaped opening and to suit any property style. We can create shapes and designs that apply to both casement windows and sliding sash windows, including shallow arches, true arches, gothic arches, or maybe a bespoke curved top design. We take a look at some popular arched window styles and share some history about their origins and journey over the decades.
The history of arched windows
Arched windows have a rich and enduring history in architecture, dating back millennia. These graceful and aesthetically pleasing openings are often associated with various architectural styles, each contributing to their evolution and popularity over time. One of the earliest examples of arched windows can be found in the Roman architectural tradition. The Romans incorporated semi-circular arches into their structures, giving birth to what we now recognise as the classic Roman arch. These arches were not only architecturally functional but also symbolically significant, representing strength and stability. Roman arches were predominantly used in public buildings, such as amphitheatres and aqueducts, showcasing their association with monumental structures.
As architectural styles evolved, arched windows found their way into various design movements. During the Gothic period, which spanned from the 12th to the 16th century, pointed arches became a hallmark feature of cathedrals and churches. These arched windows, with their intricate tracery and stained glass, were used to create awe-inspiring, light-filled spaces that served both functional and spiritual purposes. The Gothic style also contributed to the widespread popularity of arched windows in religious and institutional architecture.
In subsequent centuries, arched windows continued to be embraced by various architectural movements, including the Renaissance and Baroque styles, where they were used in palaces and grand residences. However, it was during the Neoclassical revival of the 18th and 19th centuries that the arch made a significant resurgence, as architects drew inspiration from ancient Roman and Greek architecture. Neoclassical buildings, such as government buildings and mansions, often featured arched windows to convey a sense of classical elegance and symmetry.
Today, arched windows remain a timeless and versatile architectural element, transcending specific historical periods. They are popular in various property types, from historic homes and churches to modern residences and commercial spaces. Arched windows add a touch of sophistication, character, and visual interest to any structure. Their curvature softens the lines of a building and allows for the diffusion of natural light, creating inviting and well-lit interiors.
Popular arched window styles
Arched windows come in various styles, each with its unique characteristics and popularity in different architectural contexts. Here are some of the most popular arched window styles:
True arches are characterised by their geometric precision and mathematical regularity. Technically a true arch should have a radius which is constant through 180 degrees. They are often associated with classical architectural styles, such as Roman and Neoclassical, where architects and builders placed a strong emphasis on symmetry and proportion. A true arch mirrored would produce a perfect circle.
True arches are a great choice for statement windows or for very tall areas where ample natural light is preferred to open the space, such as hallways and landings.
A shallow arch is recognisable as having a relatively wide span with a gentle, flattened curvature. Unlike a true arch, which is perfectly semicircular, a shallow arch has a less pronounced curve. The arch radius will be shorter towards the apex than it is towards the sides.
Shallow arches are loved by architects for their aesthetic variation, practicality, adaptability, versatility, and ability to be combined with other architectural elements, such as lintels or horizontal beams, to create unique designs that blend arches with straight lines and angles.
A Gothic arch is a distinctive style closely associated with the architectural movement known as Gothic architecture, which was prevalent in Europe during the medieval period. A Gothic arch is recognisable for its pointed shape, intricate tracery, and ribbed vaulting.
Gothic arches are most associated with religious architecture, as they were extensively used in the construction of Gothic cathedrals and churches throughout Europe. The pointed arches, along with other Gothic features, created an ethereal and awe-inspiring atmosphere inside these religious structures. Additionally, Gothic architecture extended its influence on other building types, including castles, civic buildings, and universities, where the pointed arch continued to be a prominent design element.
The Gothic arch remains a distinctive and enduring architectural feature, and its revivalist forms can still be found in neo-Gothic architecture, which experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Arched windows in Victorian architecture can vary in style, but they often include decorative elements like stained glass, intricate mullions, and ornate detailing. These windows are prevalent in Victorian-era homes, adding character and visual appeal.
Arched window inspiration gallery
Arched sash windows
Sash windows can be arched or have arched tops, but it is important to note that arched sash windows are a specialised variation of the traditional sash windows. Luckily, our team of joiners have worked with thousands of homeowners and an array of property types and styles to create beautiful arched sash window designs.
Arched sash windows are typically designed to follow the curve of an arch at the top of the window frame. The individual sashes are also curved or segmented to fit within the arched frame. We can custom-make arched sashes to match the architectural style of a building or to create the specific aesthetic effect desired by owners.
We can advise on any structural considerations and historical restoration requirements. These are common when working with period properties, as sash windows are often protected by the local planning authority to maintain the authenticity of a building’s architectural style or historic importance.
Benefits of arched sash windows
Arched sash windows offer several benefits that make them a popular and attractive choice for many architectural designs:
- Architectural elegance: Arched sash windows have a unique and graceful appearance that adds elegance and character to a building’s facade. Their curved tops create a sense of sophistication and can complement various architectural styles, from traditional to contemporary.
- Aesthetic versatility: While often associated with specific architectural styles like Gothic or Neoclassical, arched sash windows can be adapted to suit a wide range of design preferences. They can be customised to match the overall look and feel of a building, providing aesthetic versatility.
- Increased natural light: Arched sash windows can be taller than traditional rectangular windows, allowing more natural light to enter a room. The curvature of the arch also helps distribute light more evenly across the interior space, reducing glare and creating a pleasing atmosphere.
- Improved ventilation: Many arched sash windows are designed to be operable, allowing for effective ventilation. This feature is particularly useful in residential spaces where fresh air circulation is important.
- Historical preservation: Arched sash windows are commonly used in historical preservation and restoration projects to maintain the authenticity of historic buildings. Their design can help preserve the architectural heritage of a structure.
- Customisation: Our arched sash windows are often custom-made, which allows for a high degree of customisation.
- Energy efficiency: Modern arched sash windows can be equipped with double-glazing to improve insulation and reduce heat loss. This can contribute to energy savings and increased comfort. At Parsons Joinery we can go one step further and offer vacuum insulated glazing – a premium energy-efficient glass that can be retrofitted into Listed buildings and buildings within areas of conservation.
Arched windows have a storied history that spans across different architectural styles and property types. From their Roman origins to their prominence in Gothic cathedrals, Neoclassical mansions, and modern homes, these windows have endured for their aesthetic appeal and functional benefits. Arched windows continue to be cherished for their ability to blend tradition with contemporary design, making them an enduring and beloved feature in the world of architecture.
Each and every window project we take on is crafted with acute attention to detail for the perfect fit, appearance, and function. Whatever the shape, size, or proportion we work with our customers to create sympathetic restorations in a variety of settings. Check out our reviews for further reassurance.