Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Clerestory / Clearstory / Clearstorey
CLEAR storee
AKA overstory


An upper story row of windows; part of an interior wall rising above the adjacent roof with windows admitting light

Found in an upper level of a Roman basilica or of the nave of a Romansesque or Gothic church

The Clerestory in Egypt

Natural light filled the open-air courts at Karnak. Within the temple's covered buildings, however, other means of illumination were necessary. One of the architectural solutions was the use of clerestory windows. In the temple's hypostyle hall, the raised central nave was lined with grilled windows. The high openings (280 feet above the hall's floor) allowed sunlight to enter the hall, while maintaining the privacy and secrecy of the space. The grills were composed of two sections, one stacked atop the other, and secured in place by being fitted tightly into grooves in the side of the bordering piers....

Less prominent, but very common lighting and ventilation solutions included cutting angled slits or square holes into a temple's roof slabs, allowing daylight to enter through these small gaps. Both the Opet temple and the hypostyle hall utilized this lighting method.

- Digital Karnak: Construction Methods and Building Materials



Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:


Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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