History of the Roman Shade

By November 8, 2020 November 12th, 2020 No Comments
colusium shade

The concept of Engineered Shading Solutions goes back thousands of years with the Roman Shade. The Greeks and Romans provided shading in their Porticos and Colonnades. The Pantheon in Rome was built in 126 C.E. and shaded the Romans from the harsh Italian sun.

In the heyday of the Roman Colosseum, the crowds would sit through a day-long program of events in the open air. The sun gets hot up in the stands so long awnings were constructed that opened into the arena and offered some sun protection. The awnings were held out on poles that extended into the stands. This awning was called The Velarium. The Velarium was the Latin name given for the retractable, paneled, awning at the Roman Colosseum. Its purpose was to provide shade for the spectators who watched the gladiatorial games in the blistering sun and heat of Ancient Rome.

Gladiators in Roam

When they were not in use the shades pleated back on themselves, much like our modern Roman shades. The difference was that the original Roman shades hung horizontally out from the wall. Today’s Roman shades hang vertically in front of the window. Below are some historic representations of The Velarium.

Historical Drawing
colusium shade
Awning Of The Colosseum

Today’s engineered solutions are not much different than those of the great Colosseum. In new construction, the idea of the Dynamic Façade has become part of the discussion. Replacing the barriers to the elements in our buildings with a thin, breathable skin has become what separates the indoors from the outdoor environment. Window Coverings has become a critical part of the Dynamic Façade.

LEED has become the driver of these new buildings. Great savings in energy consumption and an increase in productivity for the occupants have proved that Dynamic Facades are the building concept of the future. When the question of how Window Coverings can contribute to LEED, there are three areas that are the most significant.


Daylighting is a major part of the Dynamic Façade. However, Daylighting can add stress to the building system in terms of glare. Many times Window Coverings are used to remedy this problem.

Light Pollution Reduction

With the increase of all glass facades, light pollution becomes an issue for the surrounding environment. Here motorized window coverings are offered as the solution and are recommended by the USGBC for Light Pollution Reduction.

Energy Reduction

While today’s glass walls and HVAC systems are light years ahead of older systems, shading is still needed to reduce the heat passing through the façade.

As you can see, the Engineered Shading System is more than just a pretty shade on the window. The fabrics used today are also engineered to be energy efficient, transparent, able to reduce glare and still look great. Take for example the new fabric by Mermet called KoolBlack.


What is so great about KoolBlack? KoolBlack has advanced technology that efficiently incorporates heat reflective properties into roller shade fabrics. This process not only saves energy and improves comfort, it also does a fantastic job at maintaining the glare control and view-through benefits of dark fabrics. Selecting a dark fabric is something many tend to turn away from, mainly because of its obvious characteristics of not enough heat reflection and tends to heat up too quickly. Have no fear, with our new KoolBlack technology, heat reflection is its number # 1; something not usually seen in dark roller shade fabrics.

We are especially proud of what the new KoolBlack fabrics feature, the benefits include:

  • High contrast for clear and sharp view-though
  • Exceptional glare control
  • Coordinated exterior building design
  • Up to 25% improvement in solar heat gain coeffient
  • Reflects NIR solar energy
  • Increased energy savings
  • Improved Comfort

The Engineered Façade is explained in well in our new Lunch & Learn Program called the Solar Shade Pyramid System. Below is a graphic that represents the topics discussed during the presentation. Future blog posts will address each topic. If you would like to schedule a Lunch & Learn program and your firm is in the New York Metro area, please contact our office.

Let Bay Shades bring elegance and performance to your custom shading solution.

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