Passageways and doors were so revered by the ancient Romans that they established Janus, god of beginnings, doorways, transitions and endings. He was usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and the past.
Throughout history doors provided protection and invitation as they do today and can tell stories, evoke mood and create mystique. They frequently provide a strong first impression as an entrance to a building and mark transitions between spaces and connect the exterior and interior. They can be humble and unadorned providing a subtle change and draw minor attention or make a major statement demanding attention to an important entrance or transition. Often design solutions depend on both to provide a hierarchy of importance which helps us decide how to navigate buildings and spaces.
Door design may provide a clue as to the function of the space one is about to enter or create a sense of anticipation as to what lies beyond. An example of this are the entry doors to Thorncrown Chaple by architect E. Fay Jones, FAIA near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. These doors evoke an ecclesiastical mood in their design motifs and a reflection of the building’s holistic design geometry.
I’ve provided a few doors here to illustrate these ideas. Of course the door is but one element of an entry, which will be explored further in a future blog. In order to orient our access the entry door is frequently the first thing we look for when arriving at a place. Some architects have even concealed the door intentionally so that the first-time visitor would have to “discover” it while first experiencing the building’s architecture.