Faux bricked-up windows in newly built houses – this is a thing?

Architecture (kinda)? Café Society (I guess).

Just what the OP says, really. We went for a stroll yesterday, which took us through a new housing development; Look, said Mrs T, Someone’s had a window bricked up. And then there was another and another and….

Here’s an example. You’re on Google Earth – have a twirl around, you’ll see more. Here’s another.

These are obviously houses which have been built with a “bricked up” window as a feature. Googling the phenomenon, all I’ve been able to find is the odd example of someone who is as perplexed as I am, like this guy. It seems to be a fairly recent innovation.


  1. Is this just a UK thing? Anyone else seen anything similar?

  2. Does anyone know why this is done? I would speculate that it’s to do with insulation, cutting down on the number of windows, and using an interesting “feature” (god help us) to enliven the resulting large expanse of plain wall. Light is cheaper than heat, I guess. Any architects/builders around?

  3. It’s not worth a poll, but this is hideous, right?


I think it’s just a Decorative feature or method to give a particular elevation of a building a human scale. As well as the horizontal band of colored bricks. So from the outside it’s visually pleasing to look like a two story dwelling with the bottom floor being at ground level.
Makes it somehow visually more appealing or comfortable. If it was just a blank wall with windows up high it may appear like it’s some type of two story interior space with raised windows? If there was just the brick band and no faux window it may feel like the first floor may be half underground?
Windows and doors in a facade are a couple of the few visual clues that give it an immediate human scale.

I certainly looks odd to my eyes. There’s gotta be better ways of breaking up a blank wall than faking a bricked-over window. That’s just weird.

Reminds me of the fake drawers under the sinks in my parents’ house (which is over 50 years old and in the U.S., for what that’s worth.)

I hate it. I understand a desire for privacy that you wouldn’t get if there were windows there, but this is ugly. It seems pretentious to me, trying to convince people it’s an older house which would be nicer than new construction.
I would feel claustrophobic living in a house with few windows. If you need privacy, put up curtains or frost the windows.

When I was living in the UK, I asked why so many Georgian-era homes had bricked-up windows. I was told this was done long ago to avoid a tax levied on (I kid you not) the number of windows one had. I can only assume that having windows to look through and see the world was equivalent back then to owning a television today (i.e., a source of entertainment).

Maybe the current practice is an attempt to emulate all those stately Georgian homes as part of gentrification by people with more money than brains.

(Or maybe that tax was never repealed? :dubious:)

My thoughts is one usually sees them on lower, ground level floors, so security. Perhaps breakin’s were common in that area. Also as for that other building where a vertical row is bricked up, I would assume it perhaps a elevator or maybe a stairway or other building utility or perhaps storage was retrofitted.

I imagine it was some architect’s notion of an inexpensive way to as “character “ to a blank wall.

And then imitation being the sincerest form of flattery…

Or more to the point there is little significant creativity in the architectural trade.
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You’re not the only person to be reminded of that. This was something I found when I was googling the subject.


In New York City they balance the desire for windows with the desire for safety by having real windows with movable glass and a sturdy iron grate outside the window. Some of the iron work is quite ornamental. It’s usually thick bars that curve out, so you can for a small window AC unit inside them, or a windowbox, or stick your head out, if you don’t fill the window with AC. They are typically far enough apart that you can stick your hand out, perhaps to train a vine growing in the windowbox.

I suppose that costs more than brick, but it’s a lot nicer, both for whoever is inside and for people looking at the building.

There actually was a good reason to brick up windows at one point in the U.K. From 1696 to 1851 there was a window tax. The idea was to tax the rich people who lived in houses that had lots of windows. Bricking up the windows was the obvious way to avoid paying as much taxes:



Why new buildings (and the buildings that Treppenwitz links to are presumably post-1960) should have features that look like bricked-up windows but which always looked that way is harder to say. Perhaps the idea is to give the house a look which reminds people of old buildings with bricked-up windows. I lived in England for three years and have visited there quite a few times since then. I don’t remember hearing about the window tax. I also don’t remember ever seeing a bricked-up window (although that may be just because I wasn’t looking for them).

I haven’t noticed faux bricked-up windows here in the U.S.

Given the popularity of Britishisms in American housing developments (for instance the tendency to add the letter “e” to names, so that people live in Ye Olde Towne Apartments), it wouldn’t surprise me if the bricked-up window thing makes it over here too.

As described in the OP, these are newly built houses - we’re talking maybe two or three years old; the tweet I linked to goes back to 2014.


How do you know how old the buildings are?

A house in our neighborhood has a similar thing going on. All brick for the exposed basement wall on half the house with an solid “arch” feature put in it. No windows on that side.

A previous owner decided to put a metal mirror inside the arch. Gave the impression you were looking thru the house into the back yard. I wonder if anyone future owners of the houses in the OP will get this, um, “brilliant” idea.

Problem: This house was on the outside of a sharp curve. At night, you get your own headlights glaring back at you like there’s a car coming right at you.

Treppenwitz , how old is the housing development you’re talking about? I ask because if it’s even a few years old, something may have changed about the use of the building(s) . There are a fair amount of bricked-up windows in my neighborhood - but they are almost always on the first floor of corner buildings which either have or had a business on the first floor. At least some of them used to have a small apartment behind the business and the windows were bricked up when the business expanded. My own house had a couple of more windows when it was built than it had when I bought it - one of them was filled in when a through the wall air-conditioner was installed by a prior owner, but I have no idea why the other was.

I’d imagine that these very new houses are built to a certain trademarked design but for certain locations it turns out that the situation is not suitable for those windows on public facing areas where they is no boundary - literally straight off the street.

I’ve seen similar such houses where social housing has been built in pretty notorious council estates and you really would not want a window facing directly on to the street.

So the houses were built to design and then modified - probably during construction itself - for the specific site. Windows would then be put in on the walls whose aspect was away from public access - such as overlooking enclosed gardens and walls.

There is a huge house building boom going on over here, loads of infill construction on small sites as well as larger developments - one design makes it cheaper to order materials and set schedules.

Just a note – filled-in arches that never actually had windows or passageways in them do exist – I’ve seen examples in Glendalough in Ireland, and if you google “filled-in arch” or “lunette” you can find lots of images of these. Exactly why they exist, I don’t know – evidently in some cases the architects felt that it would be a good idea to use an arch to help relieve the strain on part of the wall, although why the wall itself couldn’t bear the load isn’t clear to me.

None of this explains why the rash of such features in modern buildings. But the architectural feature of “blind” arches never intended to be unfilled definitely exists.

When I was in grad school in Montana, my office (shared with a bunch of other grad students) was a windowless room, but from the outside, you could see that there was a bricked-up space for a big window there. The building was only a few years old when I started, I don’t think that room was ever used for anything but an office, and the other grad student office next door did have windows. I don’t know if that was originally designed to have windows and the design had to be changed for some reason, or if someone thought it was a good idea from the start for some reason.

Two windows stacked vertically adds a pleasing symmetry to the design.

The faux exterior window on the bottom is probably the back of a closet or cabinet. A interior location where a real window isn’t desirable.

It’s the opposite from a faux interior window. The interior design is enhanced with a window that can’t exist on the exterior. (a basement is an example.)