August 5th 2021

Centre of attention

By Anthony Millington

So many beautiful old buildings that we know and love, are built around an atrium, but this design is not just reserved for old architecture; a lot of new buildings use them to introduce light and create a feeling of openness where there might not have been any. So how has it remained such a spectacle of beauty from the Roman Empire all the way into recent years?

When the atrium originated in ancient Rome, it became the heart of the home, much like the kitchen is often the heart of our homes today. This is because of the open-air design which allowed light and ventilation into other rooms. Soon, the design became popular and made its way into almost every home. Traditionally, the atrium also housed the altar to the gods, so families would gather there to pray. The practicality of a room that spreads light and air soon became enticing, and the atrium was adopted by early Christians when they were designing their churches, therefore using the space to its full potential.

Now, the power of the atrium is considered the heart of a public building – the main space, where social activities often take place and people can gather. Atriums can create continuity between separate spaces and can define the interior architecture of a building or they can be a hidden space of tranquillity that is not visible from the exterior. Whilst every atrium in existence has a great scale and purpose, they all serve specific functions and are the centre of attention to the beauty of the structure.

The popularity of atriums being built in commercial spaces is now seeing a demand in using metal mesh to add character. Metal mesh has a long tradition of outdoor use spanning hundreds of years. Over time, metal mesh has earned a reputation as a practical, durable yet surprisingly versatile product thanks in part to its uncanny ability to meet a wide range of specifications. The reason then is the same as it is now, metal mesh has inherent strength, it can be shaped, it is strong and most of all it is attractive. 

Many famous buildings these days still boast impressive atriums and will continue to inspire new and restored buildings for many years to come. They remain an aesthetically pleasing addition to modern day buildings and are worth considering when designing your next project, especially if it means extra light and promoting occupant wellbeing.

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