Blind fences: the history of the design
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September 5, 2023
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Blind fences: the history of the design

Blinds fences, which were considered exotic constructions not long ago, are now produced by many companies and are actively used for arranging both private and commercial areas – residential complexes, parking lots, hotels, shopping malls, etc. However, blinds fences have been around for quite some time, though not in their modern form. In this article, we will discuss the history of such constructions and how they have evolved.

Blinds: The Emergence of the Design

Blinds are a structure made of individual panels set at an angle. Initially, such systems were installed in windows, so the main stages of development are closely related to windows:

The first mentions of “windows with sloping panels” can be found in the chronicles of Middle Eastern states. Such frames were already used in the 4th-5th centuries AD by Arabs and Berbers – in a hot climate, blinds provided ventilation to the room, protecting it from direct sunlight but not completely obscuring it.

  • Around the same time, constructions similar to window blinds began to be used as fences. However, they primarily served a decorative function: lightweight wooden frames were set up with slanting planks around inner courtyards and flowerbeds – essentially, wherever semi-transparent shade was needed.
  • Most historians consider 711 AD to be the date when blinds constructions first entered Europe. In this year, the Arabs invaded Spain, bringing with them many “cultural artifacts.” However, there are no mentions of blinds in historical or visual sources before this time.
  • The next significant geographical milestone in the spread of blinds across Europe was France. Scholars debate the exact timing of the appearance of such structures, but the word “jalousie” was already in use in the 15th century. Interestingly, it meant “jealousy” – literally, a “construction that prevents outsiders from looking at women inside the house or courtyard” (with Arabic roots, as blinds were used to enclose harem areas and “women’s quarters” in homes).
  • From France, window blinds and fences of this type gradually spread across Europe and eventually to the United States. By the 18th century, advertisements were already offering “blinds painted in any color of your choice for windows.” However, blinds were hardly used for making fences in the United States due to traditional practices.

Therefore, by the early 20th century, a clear picture had emerged: blinds fences served a purely decorative function and were used to enclose areas requiring privacy. Their mechanical characteristics and complexity of production (compared to simple picket fences and picket fences made by Jeremiah, for example) did not allow blinds fences to be used for security purposes.

The situation could only change with evolving technologies, which it did. How blinds fences evolved throughout their history will be discussed in our overview.

EVOLUTION OF BLINDS FENCES

Blinds fences have undergone a significant evolution, starting with standard wooden structures and culminating in modern blinds fences. How did this evolution take place?

WOODEN CONSTRUCTIONS

The first material used for making blinds fences was wood. Initially, in the Middle Eastern countries, these fences served the purpose of providing privacy and regulating the microclimate. Accordingly:

  • Light and even slats of small thickness were used to make the blinds.
  • The slats were carefully dried to prevent deformation.
  • Sometimes they were treated with an open flame, which served as a substitute for applying an antiseptic.
  • A layer of varnish or paint was applied to the finished product.
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In Europe, blinds were also used to enclose areas (mostly within the property) starting from the mid-19th century, and in some cases only after World War II did wooden blinds begin to be used as external fences. The key issue was safety: wooden construction was characterized by its complexity and labor intensity in production, and it lacked significant advantages in terms of strength compared to standard picket fences or solid board fences. Therefore, wooden blinds were mainly installed (and continue to be installed) in protected areas – in suburbs with a low crime rate, in cottage communities, and so on.

METAL PRODUCTS

An important milestone in the acquisition of modern-looking blinds was the creation of a metal profiling machine in 1920. The device, developed by American engineer Henry Palmer, allowed bending thin sheet metal with minimal costs:

  • Starting from the 1930s, Palmer’s machines began to produce metal profiles, which were used, among other things, to create fences.
  • Galvanized steel was used as the raw material (based on the 1836 patent of French chemist Stanislas Sorel).
  • Such panels were also used to make blinds-fences. However, they were not very popular: even after painting, the appearance of galvanized steel did not look very attractive, so blind constructions lagged behind in demand compared to regular panel and solid fences.
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PRODUCTS WITH POLYMER COATING

Another important stage in the development of technology was the application of polymer coatings to metal:

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  • The first experiments in this direction were conducted in the 1930s.
  • Starting in 1973, the technique of applying powdered pigment using paint guns began to be actively used in the USA and Europe. Initially, they painted already profiled products, and then sheet metal before bending.
  • By the beginning of the 21st century, the range of polymer coatings for metal profiles used in the production of blind fences expanded. Alongside polyester, they began to use plastisol, pural, PVDF, and their analogs.
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It was at the end of the 20th century that modern metal blind fences appeared on the market. They combine the following features that are familiar today:

  • Fence sections are assembled from individual slats installed at an angle, providing privacy while maintaining ventilation and allowing light to pass through.
  • The fence is assembled modularly: the frame can be customized to size and assembled on-site using mechanical fastening (welding is not mandatory).
  • Galvanized steel with a polymer coating or aluminum profiles painted using powder technology are used as raw materials for making slats.

In the post-Soviet space, blind fences began to be used much later than in Europe or the USA:

  • From the mid-1990s, some enthusiasts and woodworking enterprises began to copy blind fence designs from popular landscaping magazines.
  • Starting in the early 2000s, companies began producing profiled metal products with a polymer coating made of galvanized metal. The appearance of metal blind fences on the domestic market can be dated to around 2003-2005.

From 2010-2012, the popularity of such structures rapidly increased. The use of modern equipment allows maintaining high-quality standards in the production of blind fences, and their design features set these systems apart favorably from simpler fences.

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DESIGN POTENTIAL OF METAL BLIND FENCES

The popularity of blind fences is growing worldwide, and designers are keeping up with the trend. For example, in 2012, architect Chino Dzukki installed a massive vertical blind fence around the Vedeggio-Cassarate underground tunnel construction site, which was designed to connect Lugano to the Milan-Zurich highway. True to the nature of such a system, the blind fence (though vertical, not horizontal) effectively concealed the construction site from prying eyes. The design was so successful that after the construction was completed, it was decided not to dismantle it (at least for a while), turning the blind fence into a tourist attraction.

Metal blind fences, considered a product of the 20th century, have undergone significant changes in recent decades. They have evolved from mere decorative elements into important structural components of urban infrastructure. They are now regarded as part of the overall context of architectural design, rather than just mass-produced building components.

Innovations in manufacturing technologies and materials have driven the development of metal blind fences. They have transformed from simple wooden structures into modern metal products that are highly resistant to corrosion, impact, vibrations, and other environmental factors.

Contemporary blind fences offer a high degree of design freedom. They allow for adjusting the angle of the slats, enabling the control of lighting levels and privacy. This flexibility is a crucial feature as it enhances the versatility of using these fences in various contexts, ensuring maximum satisfaction for users’ needs.

MODERN EVOLUTION OF BLIND FENCES

At the beginning of the 20th century, blind fences were primarily made of wood and served decorative and privacy functions. They were expensive to produce, especially compared to simple picket fences, which limited their use. However, with the advent of new technologies and materials, the situation changed.

EMERGENCE OF METAL BLIND FENCES

In the mid-20th century, metal became an increasingly popular material for fences. Thanks to its strength and durability, metal blind fences became a popular choice for commercial properties such as parking lots, industrial areas, and hotels. These fences not only provided privacy but also protected the premises from unauthorized access.

PLASTIC BLIND FENCES

The introduction of plastic in the mid-20th century made it possible to manufacture more affordable blind fences. Plastic blind fences became popular in residential areas due to their affordability, strength, and ease of installation. They also had an advantage over wooden fences as they did not require regular painting or finishing.

MODERN TECHNOLOGIES

Today, innovative technologies allow the production of blind fences from various materials, including aluminum, steel alloys, and composites. These materials enable the creation of fences that cater to various consumer needs, from high-strength security barriers to aesthetically pleasing decorative fences. These fences can be treated to mimic the appearance of wood, stone, or other materials while providing higher strength and corrosion resistance.

AUTOMATION

Modern blind fences can be equipped with automation systems that allow remote opening and closing. This is especially useful for commercial properties where access to the premises needs to be regulated. Even for private homes, automated blind fences can offer convenience and an additional level of security.

ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY

Finally, an important aspect of the modern development of blind fences is their impact on the environment. Manufacturers are increasingly using environmentally friendly materials and technologies in fence production, helping to reduce their environmental footprint.

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In conclusion, modern blind fences are the result of a long evolutionary journey, starting from simple wooden frames with panels and leading to contemporary high-tech solutions. They not only provide privacy and protection but also serve as a significant part of landscape design.

author
Anetzel
About the author:

Маркетолог предприятия “Мехбуд”. Квалифицированный эксперт по общению с клиентами и партнерами. Всегда готова к общению и сотрудничеству.

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