The History Of Aluminium Windows: How Did the Dominance Begin?


Presently, aluminium stands as the second most specified material in construction, following steel. A substantial 40% of the UK’s annual aluminium production finds application within the construction industry, showcasing its integral role in contemporary building practices. 

Let’s go through the captivating story of aluminium windows, uncovering how they rose to architectural prominence over time.

A Brief History Of Aluminium Window

In 1912, a pivotal moment in the history of architecture and construction occurred with the introduction of aluminium windows. Initially, these windows found their application in the transportation sector, specifically in buses, railroad cars, and trolleys. The decision to employ aluminium in these vehicles was driven by its unique properties, including its lightweight nature and resistance to corrosion—a crucial aspect for materials exposed to varied weather conditions during travel.

Expansion into Commercial Construction (1930s):

The 1930s marked a notable shift, witnessing the emergence of aluminium windows in commercial buildings.

  1. Architectural Evolution: Aluminium windows brought a new dimension to architectural design. The material’s versatility allowed for the creation of sleek, modern designs that departed from the traditional aesthetic of wooden windows. The transition from wood to aluminium was not only driven by practical considerations such as durability but also by a desire to embrace the changing architectural trends of the time.
  2. Wood-Like Appearance: A significant development during this period was the effort to make aluminium windows resemble wood. This innovation aimed to marry the aesthetic appeal of traditional wooden windows with the practical benefits offered by aluminium. This not only addressed concerns about the visual integration of aluminium in historic or traditionally styled buildings but also expanded the range of architectural styles that could benefit from the material.

Introduction Of Aluminium Windows In The UK Market

The early to mid-20th century witnessed a transformative phase in the UK’s architectural landscape with the introduction of aluminium windows.

Timeline of Introduction (Early to Mid-20th Century):

  1. Early Initiatives: Aluminium windows first made their entry into the UK market during the early 20th century, with architects and builders beginning to explore the possibilities offered by this lightweight and corrosion-resistant material.
  2. Technological Advancements: The industrial progress of the mid-20th century, including advancements in metallurgy and manufacturing techniques, played a crucial role in making aluminium windows a viable and attractive option for construction projects.

Popularity Surge in the UK (1950s to 1980s):

  1. Architectural Shifts in the 1950s: The post-war period in the UK brought about a need for reconstruction and modernisation. This era saw a surge in architectural experimentation and a departure from traditional design elements. Aluminium windows, with their contemporary aesthetic and functional benefits, gained prominence during this period.
  2. Commercial Applications: The 1950s to 1980s witnessed a notable increase in the use of aluminium windows in commercial buildings. The material’s durability, coupled with its ability to accommodate large window designs, made it a preferred choice for modern office complexes and commercial spaces.
  3. Residential Adoption: The appeal of aluminium windows extended beyond the commercial sector and found favour in residential applications during the same period. Homeowners and architects alike embraced the sleek and modern look that aluminium offered, contributing to its widespread adoption in residential constructions.

Why Aluminium Became Very Popular As a Window Material

Here are the factors that propelled aluminium to the forefront of the construction industry’s window choices.

1. Durability and Low Maintenance: 

Aluminium’s inherent resistance to corrosion made it well-suited for the UK’s varying weather conditions. This durability, coupled with its low maintenance requirements, contributed significantly to its growing popularity.

2. Design Versatility: 

Aluminium’s malleability allowed for intricate and diverse window designs, providing architects with a wide range of creative possibilities. This adaptability to different architectural styles contributed to its integration into various building projects.

3. Energy Efficiency Considerations:

The 1970s and 1980s saw a growing emphasis on energy efficiency. Aluminium windows, with improvements in insulation and glazing technologies, became an attractive option for those seeking environmentally conscious and energy-efficient solutions.

Market Trends In Aluminium Window Usage UK

As per Insight Data’s report, aluminium frames overwhelmingly dominated the UK’s commercial double glazing and window sector in 2014, constituting over 80%, while PVC-U comprised merely 6%. Predictions anticipate a 22% rise in aluminium glazing sales to £2.7 billion by 2019. Fortune Business Insights forecasts accelerated demand for aluminium windows in residential settings, driven by a rising preference for energy-efficient homes, consequently boosting the demand for aluminium profiles in windows.

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Final Words

The history of aluminium windows reflects a remarkable journey from innovation to dominance in the architectural landscape. From their early use in transport to becoming a stalwart in commercial and residential constructions, aluminium windows have reshaped how we build and design. The success story lies in their unique combination of durability, design versatility, and energy efficiency. As we appreciate their dominance today, it’s clear that the evolution of aluminium windows is not just a historical narrative but an ongoing testament to the material’s enduring appeal and its integral role in shaping the aesthetics and sustainability of modern structures.

More to know

1. What country discovered aluminium first?

Aluminium was first discovered by Danish chemist Hans Christian Ørsted in 1825.

2. When was aluminium first used in construction?

The use of aluminium in construction began in the early 20th century, gaining momentum in the 1920s and 1930s.

Director at Chesterfield Window Centre | Website | + posts

In 2005, I founded Chesterfield Window Centre with a vision to redefine the window and door industry through a commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction. The journey began with a deep understanding of the market, identifying gaps, and envisioning a business that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations.

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