External roller shutters are part of the family of blackout systems. More precisely, they are “an exterior shading system with horizontally jointed slats that slide between two side guides.”
To open and close, the roller shutter wraps precisely around a roller that is located inside a box positioned at the top of the window.
In Italy, the roller shutter found its first applications in 1870.
The first roller shutters were made of wood, the louvers were very wide, with the function of letting light filter through, and there was extensive use of projecting guides to better manage solar inputs.
An example is the shutters of the Palazzo delle Debite in Padua, designed by architect Camillo Boito. Boito himself later applied shutters in Milan in the 1899 Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, a building commissioned by Giuseppe Verdi.
A solution that frees the building from the need to respect the rigid rhythms between voids and solids required in the case of matching shutters.
In the 1900s, windows with shutters allow for striking facades. Iconic and significant is Gaudi’s 1906 Casa Milà, whose facade conformation revolutionized the compositional aspects of buildings.
1936 Casa del Fascio in Lissone is characterized by painted Douglas fir shutters.
In the 1960s, aluminum roller shutters became popular in Europe.
In 1963, Luciano Agostini founded ETP, Estrusione Tapparelle in Plastica, bringing the first PVC roller shutters, which are lighter and cheaper, to Italy as well.
These will be increasingly used thanks to the building development and intense urbanization of the Italian territory in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The 1990s saw the entry of insulated aluminum, which is a polyurethane foam filling inserted inside the slats to guarantee thermal and acoustic insulation.
The product is thus lighter than wood, very durable, and above all more resistant to saltiness and impacts from hail.
At the same time, extruded aluminum slats are being developed, which have better anti-intrusion characteristics than simple insulated aluminum.
The strongest material used for burglar-resistant roller shutters and for situations with high storm risk is, at present, armored steel.
Today we are witnessing the transition from the old system of raising the roller shutter by means of a rope to the more modern motorized systems, in which the roller shutter fabric is raised by an electric motor inserted in the roller strapping.
It is controlled by a button placed on the wall, a remote control or, in home automation installations, by an app installed in the smartphone.
Some types of roller shutters also include the possibility of partially orienting the slats in order to adjust sunlight access according to one’s needs.