Archie and Wayne's Guide to Architectural Terms

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Architects use some very odd terms to describe parts of buildings and their decoration. Who better than those key figures in architecture Archie Trave and Wayne Scotting to explain a few of the weirdest words?  Here are some of their favourites.


WoburnAddorsed & Affronted
Addorsed - Term applied to two symmetrical figures of people or animals placed back to back as a decorative motif. The opposite is Affronted where the figures are placed face to face.

Alure
An alley or walkway behind a parapet or around the roof of a church.

Architrave
A lintel stretching between the tops of two columns. Also the moulded frame around a door or window.

Belvedere
Also known as a gazebo (another great word!) this is a small summerhouse with a view, found in landscaped gardens.

Bosquet
Small irregular wood or shrubbery designed to bring a ‘natural’ contrast to formal gardens.

Caryatid
A column sculpted in the form of a woman.

Crinkle-Crankle
A wiggly wall.

Crocket
A decorative ‘knob’ , often in the shape of flowers or foliage, found on the outer edge of spires or pinnacles. Part of the Gothic style.

Cruck
One of a pair of curved timbers that forms the support at the end wall in a cruck-framed building.

Diaper Work
Fancy decorative brickwork, often geometrical, in contrasting colour from the main structure.

Gadrooned
The opposite of fluted. Vertical convex pattern on columns.

Geodesic Dome
A dome formed from hexagons that creates a large space without need for internal supports such as the greenhouses at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Based on the work of chemist Buckminster Fuller.

Gloriette
A mock ruin placed at a strategic point in landscaped grounds to create a focal point. Also called an eye-catcher.

Hungry Joint
Form of pointing in which the filler is recessed to exaggerate the shape of the brickwork around it.

Hypaethral
Having no roof. Open to the sky.

Joggling
Trick used by masons to secure a joint between two pieces of stone. The faces are shaped so that one forms a peg into a recess in the other, thus preventing the masonry from slipping.

Lucarne
Small opening in an attic, like a dormer window.

Mansard
Type of roof with two slopes on each face. Many New England barns are built this way.

Nogging
Brickwork that fills the spaces between the beams in a wood-framed house.

Ogee
Type of arch shape that looks like an upturned boat. Also known as a keel arch.

Pargeting
Decorative plaster work on the outside of a building frequently found in East Anglia.

Parbend
Stone passing through the full thickness of a wall with two smooth faces.

Quadratura
Painted walls in trompe l’oeil (fake – fooling the eye) to make apparent architectural detail.

Quadriga
A sculpture group of a chariot and four horses, often found on the top of monuments.

Quarrel
Small diamond shaped pane of glass in medieval leaded windows.

Quirk
A v-shaped incision in a moulding.

Rabbet
A rectangular groove in a piece of wood designed to take the edge of another piece, as in tongue and groove.

Raggle
A groove cut in masonry to take the edge of a roof.

Scantling
A small piece of timber or a small stud in the upright frame of timber buildings.

Tabby
Concrete made with small stones, gravel or shells to increase hardness.

Term
A pedestal that tapers into a sculpture of a human, mythical or animal figure. (cf caryatid)

Vesica
Upright almond shape in medieval art enclosing a figure, usually a religious figure.

Wainscotting
A timber lining on walls.

Xystus
A long walk bordered by colonnades or trees.

Yorkshire Lights
Mullioned windows in which one half is fixed and the other slides horizontally across to allow ventilation.

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