Look up amongst the throng of high rise buildings housing residents in one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and perhaps you’ll wonder why so many windows in Bangladesh are barred. Largely designed to keep thieves out, and to avoid those looking out of their balconies from falling out, having window grills in Bangladesh is as common-place as having a roof.
The simplest design for a window grill is made up of many straight bars that run parallel against the fewer bars running across perpendicular-wise. The pattern becomes a series of consecutive rectangles running both vertically and horizontally. The bars are made of metals that would require industrial grade machinery to break, and even then, would take too long to bend out of shape. This helps to keep intruders out, dissuading thieves from attempting to break the bars and rob an apartment or business complex.
Intricate designs made with a series of straight lines are also popular choices when deciding what kind of grill to place across your windows. Popular patterns include criss-cross patterns and plus symbols. Shapes like triangles, diamonds and occasionally 5-plus edge shapes like pentagons and hexagons will be used to make patterns that add to the architectural aestheticism of what is otherwise just a plain window. Particularly remarkable or prestigious buildings in Bangladesh will have incredibly complex patterns that form along their windows, often taking the shape of a flower such as a lotus – the national flora of the country.
Besides preventing thieves from scouring up the drain pipes and breaking into your house, window grills have practical uses too. Most apartments have window grills made up of long rectangles suitable to hang clothing on. This helps make up for the lack of space in Bangladesh to have seperate clotheslines, however clotheslines are often installed on the flat roofs of residential buildings for all the tenants to use.
Window grills can also provide some privacy by obstructing the view of someone looking in. The incredible proximity of buildings in Bangladesh can sometimes make it a little too easy for a nosy busy-body to try and get a peek at you while doing something you’d rather do without an audience.
Designed both for security, grandeur and clothes drying, window grills are a multi-purpose feature of building exteriors in Bangladesh that provide more than just something to look at out of the window.
Reza Mazumder is the Editor-in-Chief of The Monsoon Project, and a third year undergraduate student studying a Bachelor of Asian Studies at the Australian National University.