Reinaldo Andara

The enclosures present throughout history

Security has become a priority for all; the requirements nowadays, as far as enclosures are concerned, go beyond achieving solutions with lattices that are only visually attractive; if not they must cover functional aspects to be resistant, safe and durable to place a barrier and achieve greater protection.


The Enclosures and its History

The grid, as part of the enclosure of buildings or buildings, has been considered an important element since ancient times. When inquiring about its origin you can find that its design and usefulness arises in the ancient cultures of the East with the realization of cages made of wood. In the West, particularly in the Greek world, bronze bars were used to close some areas of the temples and thus exhibit the treasures of the cult that, protected by the gate, could be admired or worshiped by the faithful.

Rome, for its part, takes these ideas to make strong enclosures and insulators in prisons, circuses and amphitheatres, but this time uses iron as an indispensable material of these constructions to grant greater strength of such separation and increase resistance and security. This type of iron grate also arrives in Spain, executed with the forging technique and with an exclusively practical purpose but still without any aesthetic purpose. An example of this is the piece that remains today in the Archaeological Museum of Seville, built with thick bars, set with the male and female system.

This is how the concept of the grid is born in large proportions, which complements a building forming an inherent part of its architecture although in a moderate way. Later, in the middle of the tenth century, the gate takes a step forward and is integrated not only as an inheritance of the past, but also as an imminent need to protect spaces against possible violations and sacrileges that could occur. It should be noted that for this period the Mozarabs had extensive knowledge about iron, which was worked through a very advanced forging technique, this coupled with the need to protect certain sacred places of the temples, launched a grille architectural that will be present throughout the entire Hispanic Middle Ages.

But it is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries when the grid is no longer a simple element of architecture and is now considered an artistic piece that, in addition to completing the building, also decorates and embellishes it. Particularly within the Romanesque church, the grid is not only an insulating element which transparent wall, but also is presented combining aesthetics and symbolism: looking for a decorative effect of beauty and plasma with its forms a Christian allegory.

This aesthetic is achieved through the repetition of volutes (symmetrical pieces of iron plate in such form, rectangular or cylindrical section and are fastened to vertical bars by clamps), which come to be organized in two ways: a simple, basic of the iron plate rolled on itself; and another, with the same shape but accompanied with floral decoration at its beginning and end. Such repetition of motives was known as “ferric lace”.

Then, in the centuries of the XII to the XV, with the height of the Gothic art the grid rises and becomes more varied and complex. Its structures, heights and decorations grow in dimensions and richness, creating an aesthetic in keeping with the style of the buildings that complete and abandon the repetition of the Romanesque scroll. Now he composes his cloths with quadrilled, hexagonal, cylindrical and carved bars (frequently all mixed for greater visual enrichment); it superimposes several bodies to reach greater height (in agreement with the characteristic elevation of the new architecture) and it traces rich friezes decorated with diverse symbolic reasons.

Now, the bars thus structured had to isolate various spaces within the Gothic cathedral; that is, they had different conformations according to the closing functions that they had to cover. And that’s how the modalities that the architectural grid nowadays brings were created:

  • Reja muro, closes exteriors: courtyards, atriums and cloisters; his idea is that of a wall without a passage, but with vision, aeration and light.
  • Grid partition, indoors, closes chapels, major altars and choirs; its intention is that of partition of internal separation, very decorated and naturally, with permissibility of the passage of the light and the vision.
  • Reja canvas also of interiors, is that with which a continuous canvas is made along an internal wall based on bars and of great length; This extensive canvas usually consists of three parts: one, large and central, which houses the door, and two other sides that have windows.

These typologies, will last during the Renaissance and the Baroque, still showing in Neoclassicism and the current century. At the end of the 15th century the architectural ironwork is already perfectly defined as a fundamental principle within the cathedrals and great temples; his three purposes (architectural, functional and emblematic) have been condensed in his work; and, it is implanted as a prototypical characteristic of Spanish art. Since then and until the economic decline of the seventeenth century the great Hispanic teachers of the forge marked their patterns and typologies to the rest of Europe and in the field of a design that handles forms lightening spaces and opening blocks to not stop the light.

The Bars in Venezuela

The first iron bars of the balconies and windows in Venezuela were imported from Vizcaya; (late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century). Later the local craftsmen began to make them from several bars of square section, placed vertically and inserted in a horizontal plate, without any type of decoration. For their shape they received the name of “squared bars”. The square section bars with which they were made were already made from the foundries of Vizcaya and were, in the 18th century, one of the solutions to simplify the task of the blacksmiths.

Regarding its design, it is known that the flying bars were very tall and were placed on the exterior facades. In the upper part of the grating was placed a dust cover of masonry resting on a wooden board. In the lower part, the grid was supported on a ledge, also of masonry. Each end of the bars was riveted by a plate. To form the flyer, on each side of the gate, an extra bar was added. In the middle of it, generally, there were two horizontal bars through which all the bars passed and from which, on each side, double legs were embedded in the wall.

The embedded gratings, on the other hand, were placed flush with the wall and were attached to a wooden frame that served both to fix the leaves or doors of the windows. They were, in general, much smaller than the flying bars. They were used in the interiors of homes and only exceptionally outdoors. The holes in basements or common spaces were very small. Very rarely they were done in a horizontal sense like the one that still exists in the Cathedral of Caracas and that serves to protect the hole that gives light to the main altar of the nave of San Pedro, or as the one that is known existed in a gallery of the house of Don Juan de Vegas and Bertodano.

Between the years 1764 and 1765, a house was built in the city of Coro that became an emblematic case, since it was the only house with iron bars while all the others had it made of wood. They gave it the name of the “House of iron windows”, in the center they had a small ornament of double volute. It is known that they were manufactured in Vizcaya and bought especially for the house.

The simplicity of the prototype of common railings of the Venezuelan Hispanic period can be reflected in a different model that was adapted to another use, it was a grate that separated the main patio from a garden that reached the bottom of a house in Caracas, according to Möller was formed by square ballasts, placed between low pillars of masonry mounted by knobs. The bars were smooth and as aesthetic detail, the ballasts of each body increased in height from the shore to reach the center that was higher and all ended in a sharp point.

Another case that is known is that of railings of iron bars smooth that delimited the street in front of the Cathedral of Caracas and that protected the unevenness with the Plaza Mayor. In the middle of the 19th century the round bars replaced the squares, leaving behind the bars of squares in windows and balconies. An attempt to create a work with strict sense

decorative, was the case of the four wrought iron bars that formed the rails of the Cathedral of Caracas. For the time they should consider pieces of great luxury and novelty since they were the only bars of this neoclassical style, which were inside the Cathedral. They were finished in 1800 by the cabinetmaker Serafin Antonio Almeida, these bars were decorated with ovals, ribbons, scrolls and golden leaves and inserted into delicate veneered cedar frames.


The News

Currently the bars have become significant pieces of any urban space, either because it is required to strengthen security or because it seeks to delimit an area. We can notice, and not with astonishment, as of a time to this part, the bars, if you will, have evolved and are no longer placed especially as closings of chapels in churches, as in previous centuries, but are widely used in homes , parks, public places, as well as for

Enrejar entire urbanizations. You never hesitate to invest in a fence, and there are always a number of ideas to develop the project.

As in other times, the bars must always combine aesthetics and functionality, either with intricate or simple designs, and with strength and durability, to provide users with an optimal enclosure system. That is why they provide protection but at the same time decorate and give some extra distinction to the place where they are installed while allowing to express the creativity of the designer, the skill of the blacksmith that the factory and in many cases the good taste of the user.

But it is not enough to limit oneself to a good design and an impeccable workmanship, it is also necessary to select and combine good products that allow to ensure resistance, long service life and easy maintenance, qualities that are achieved with solid steel products whose properties They manage to satisfy such requirements.

In the past the materials that were used for the manufacture of the bars was the wrought iron; Nowadays it is necessary to emphasize that the most used products when deciding which materials to apply are the bars, bars and angles, products

iron and steel, manufactured for more than 50 years by SIDETUR.


The Designs

In most cases, one of the most complex tasks when manufacturing a grille or requesting its manufacture is the design issue. The blacksmith must not only present a budget that includes the materials to be used and labor, but must also include their preparation. Building a fence implies not only the expertise of the blacksmith, but also having catalogs with models or sketches that facilitate the selection of the design by the client. Until recently, the printed brochures available in Venezuela used to choose a model were European, mainly from Spain and Italy; However, for about four years, the market has offered excellent works in which you can find different options of grille designs adapted, mostly, to the style of Venezuelan architecture.

As in the centuries where Gothic art was present, and the bars were classified according to the function and location, today, the same modalities exist; even though most of them have the main function of protection, some are also used to delimit or close spaces.

The bars as protection and security can be classified in bars for windows, for doors, for facades of houses or buildings, for gates and perimeters of public places such as parks and squares.

The designs of grilles for windows can be chosen between traditional and simple, where the bar and the plate are combined vertically and horizontally respectively obtaining a kind of grid, even the most elaborate where the old European style is maintained with details of scrolls and ornamental flowers.

Even though nowadays the windows of any building, be it a house or an apartment, they are built looking to maintain light and space in order to enjoy the view; in the majority we can see different models of fences, many of them with the main objective of protection and safety and others trying to beautify the place.

In the case of doors, the protectors have the intention of achieving a good appearance but they must also protect the most important thing that is the income. It is possible to find a wide variety of options in terms of shapes, materials and sizes, but in all cases of selection it is necessary to assess the criteria of quality and durability. The grilles for the doors can be of two types: one that is part of the door itself, which are known by the name of leaf doors, which include in the upper part an ideal grid to bring light or generate a greater breadth of space, and the other that is placed embedded after the same door.

When we talk about gates we can find that there are different types; that is, sliding or tilting; with one, two or three sheets depending on the space you have. The design of the gate generally coincides with the lattice of the windows to continue with the same style and not to overload the view of the building. The solid steel gates have been used for a long time since in addition to providing security they allow to see the design of the house.

As for the perimeter fence, for its manufacture, the first thing that needs to be known are the dimensions that it will have and the height that it is desired to reach. In most designs you want to combine the security function with the style that embellishes the place; although it can also be found, especially in public squares, designs that accompany the style of the park and are not necessarily used as protection but rather as a delimitation of space.


The Publications

In order to select a good design, it is important to have a brochure or catalog that facilitates the display or selection of the models, since it helps to save search time for decision making.

SIDETUR, through its Editorial Fund, has been publishing, for more than 14 years, very useful texts not only for students and professionals in the engineering area but also for other disciplines related to the design, calculation and application of products for the construction and structures in general.

Aware of the scarcity of national publications in the blacksmithing sector, specifically on designs of enclosures, SIDETUR decided to publish two books with the aim of facilitating the creative and systematic process that involves the manufacture of bars. It is important to note that, in both texts, each model of grid exposed, is accompanied by a table with the dimensions, the amount of details, the number of pieces cut, the materials to be used with the description of the elements that constitute the grid. Additionally to complete all this information, a scale map is presented to facilitate the elaboration of it.

Thus, all the content presented in these publications will enable the blacksmith to define the amount of material required, establish the approximate cost for the manufacture of any of the models and obtain a quick idea of ??the complexity of the work.

With the publications “100 different grid models (2009)” and “Outdoor grills (2011)” you have the possibility to choose different models of grilles for windows, gates, perimeter grilles and grills for facades of homes or buildings. The content of these works offers multiple options when choosing a particular design, and can even incorporate elements of one or more of the presented models to personalize the design and adapt it to the particular needs or, even only to combine colors at the moment of paint the grid to get the same model but with another visual aspect. In short, the imagination is stimulated when designing a fence using these manuals.

If you want to acquire these publications, you can get them directly from the Editorial Fund or through the steel distributors.