Hardware on European windows allow them to tilt in for ventilation.
Roe Osborn Hardware on European windows allow them to tilt in for ventilation.

As we rolled past a security gate, I was informed that the 40-acre complex we were entering was a former Soviet tank factory. After weaving through a maze of austere industrial structures, we came upon a small building that looked out of place with its bright yellow stucco exterior and its beautiful wood windows. Makrowin, the company located there, manufactures what we in this country call European windows, or "tilt-and-turn" windows (because most of them open by either tilting in at the top or swinging in like a door). This facility was the first stop on a recent trip through areas of Europe where I got to see what goes into fabricating these extraordinary products known not only for their furniture-like aesthetic quality but for exceptional operation and performance that are hard to equal anywhere.

Although European windows are some of the most thermally efficient windows manufactured in the world, their development was spurred by concerns other than energy efficiency. During the last couple of decades, as homes in Europe became more airtight and more thermally efficient, double-glazed windows—widely used in Europe at the time—came under...

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