Bay window

A bay window is a window space projecting outward from the main walls of a building and forming a bay in a room.


Bay window is a generic term for all protruding window constructions, regardless of height. The most common inside angles are 90, 135 and 150 degrees, though triangular bays formed of two windows set at 120 degrees may be found.

All are polygonal or square.[1]

A bay window with a flat front and angled sides is called canted.[2]

A bay window supported by a corbel, bracket or similar is called an oriel window.


Most medieval bay windows and up to the baroque era are oriel windows. They frequently appear as a highly ornamented addition to the building rather than an organic part of it. Particularly during the Gothic period they frequently contain small house chapels, with the oriel window containing an altar and resembling an apse of a church. Especially in Nuremberg these are even called Chörlein (meaning Little Apse or Little Choir) with the most famous example being the one from the parsonage of St. Sebaldus Church.

Oriental oriel windows such as the Arab Mashrabiya are frequently made of wood and allow viewing out while restricting visibility from the outside. Because there is a close similarity to the use of a balcony, it is difficult to define if they are indeed oriel windows or a special type of balcony.

Bay windows became a hugely popular feature of residential Victorian architecture in the British Isles from about the 1870s and hold a continuous appeal up to this day. They are used to increase the flow of natural light into a building, thereby also making a room appear larger, and to provide views of the outside which would be unavailable with an ordinary flat window. They can be found in terraced houses, semis and detached houses as well as in blocks of flats.

Based on British models, their use spread to other English speaking countries like the USA, Canada and Australia. Following the pioneering model of pre-modern commercial architecture at the Oriel Chambers in Liverpool, they even feature on early Chicago School skyscrapers where they often run the whole height of the building's upper storeys. Bay windows were identified as a defining characteristic of San Francisco architecture in a 2012 study that had a machine learning algorithm examine a random sample of 25,000 photos of cities from Google Street View.[3]


  1. ^ Inventary of Germanisches Nationalmuseum where the original is kept while the image shows a 1902 replica
  2. ^ British Listed Buildings

See also


  1. John Fleming, Hugh Honour, Nikolaus Pevsner, The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Fourth edition, Harmondsworth 1991, p. 36.
  2. Glossary of Architectural Terms Archived 14 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine. s.v. Bay Window.
  3. Harris, Derrick (10 August 2012). "Big data magic trick: Show me a doorway, I'll tell you the city". GigaOM. Retrieved 21 October 2012.

External links

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