Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Monday, November 3, 2008

On the necessity of windows

I recently passed through Singapore and rested for a few hours in the airport transit hotel. It’s a useful facility which can give you something useful to do with a layover, i.e. sleep.

The rooms are in a little warren of corridors, all completely contained within the airport terminal. And the rooms look like a standard business hotel room, with a desk, a bathroom and (of course) a bed.

That’s not all. These internal rooms also have windows. They aren’t real – how could they be? Each room has a set of drawn curtains right where you would expect a window. If you look behind the curtain you find a blank wall.

Why do we feel the need for a window? One definitely makes the room more welcoming. And, because you would only to to those rooms for a sleep (if you’ve been for some other purpose please don’t tell me) the curtains add to a feeling of night time, regardless of local time or your body clock.

posted by colin at 9:41 pm  


  1. I once had a window-less office at a university. It wasn’t a pleasant room to be in. It might have been less unpleasant if all I ever did in there was sleep. (I remember only one occasion when I did sleep in there.)

    Comment by Tim McKenzie — 4 November 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  2. Sounds like an ideal opportunity for a “Slow Glass” salesman so that you could have a view if you were suffering from insomnia or claustrophobia.

    See Bob Shaw’s “Light of other Days” at


    Comment by Alisdair McKenzie — 7 November 2008 @ 11:59 am

  3. Alisdair

    Sorry, your comment got caught in my spam trap.

    Yes, I well remember and enjoyed Bob Shaw’s notions about Slow Glass. I liked the way he took one technical innovation and tried to explore the social implications.



    Comment by colin — 17 November 2008 @ 10:50 am

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