Sunday, 1 August 2010

Gable ends

Yesterday evening -- lovely light -- view from the back window, to the left, from my armchair where I'm reading W.B. Gillie on his education -- about which I may do a blog.

I think the yellow house, which I take to be early or mid-Victorian, is lovely. The yellow is fine, though the brick underneath probably would have been too. The slight curve on the window lintels, which I suppose may have structural value, is welcome as the one of only two curved features (just enough) among all the straight lines. The drainpipes don’t bother me.

The two windows are in roughly the same proportions but the different sizes both add interest visually and express the different status of the first and attic storeys.

The edges of the gable end are satisfyingly indented in white by the stepped ashlar blocks and by the exposed rafters under the roof overhang, itself a nice feature that’s enhanced by the shadow it creates on the western side.

Finally, the wooden barge-boarding is of a thickness that’s in proportion and properly substantial for its role in terminating the fine long surface of slate and closing the upward view of the wall; and note the elegant way its lower end is handled, with the other curve.

Now -- this is what struck me -- contrast that modern block behind it and to the left, of which only the gable and some roof are visible. I don’t much like that colour brick or those tiles, but that’s not a judgment that I can justify objectively. I think I can argue, though, that the white wooden strip that edges the roof (I don’t know the modern term for the equivalent of the Victorian bargeboard) is pusillanimous -- neither thin enough to be a minimalist line nor thick enough to play any role in the proportional balance of the building. Or is it that the white paint makes the feature unjustifiably prominent? (When I grew up exterior paint was all dark colours and for many building elements I still prefer that -- though the white looks good on the Victorian building.)

I guess I'm affected too by the fact that it looks cheap. It’s no doubt perfectly good housing but it spoils my view.

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