'Dutch Billys'

Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:38 pm

Devin wrote:Not everyone gets off on the idea of a continuous gabled streetscape anyway. Many people would find 10 or 15 gables in a row waayy too busy.


Image
nos. 386 - 422 Singel, the inner-most canal ring in Amsterdam

I suppose that depends of just how sedate you like your street-architecture ;)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:35 pm

Ok, I think your personal tastes are known to all by now :)

In regard to Dublin, you will be aware, gunter, that the views and panoramas of the time indicate that a majority of gables in Dublin were just plain triangular, rather than curvilinear. There's also the factor of poorly arranged or asymmetrical facades, which are seen a worrying number of times in extant gabled buildings - examples on Duke Street, St. Stephen's Green, and Capel Street.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:39 pm

Devin wrote:In regard to Dublin, you will be aware, gunter, that the views and panoramas of the time indicate that a majority of gables in Dublin were just plain triangular, rather than curvilinear.


That's true . . . . . if you confuse older stock with newly built 'Billys' and also backs with fronts.

Devin wrote:There's also the factor of poorly arranged or asymmetrical facades, which are seen a worrying number of times in extant gabled buildings - examples on Duke Street, St. Stephen's Green, and Capel Street.


That Devin is because you are not understanding these houses properly IMO.

Image Image Image Image
various views of ns. 16, 17 [rendered house with blank central windows on upper floors], 18 and 19 Duke Street

Image
aerial view showing the rear of this group, no. 19 has the white roof.

Nos. 18 and 19 were clearly a pair although the facade of no. 19 has been completely rebuilt as an unremarable two-bay in Victorian brick. The full height returns to both houses suggests that the original roof structure to these houses [the existing roofs are at too low at pitch to owe anything to the original construction and the pattern fits the individual hipped hat roofs that characterized 'Billy' make-overs of the early 19th century] started at shoulder height on the fourth storey at the lowest, therefore the gabled facades probably incorporated a single feature, possibly a lunette window, above the pair of widely spaced top floor windows. Either that, or the original roof was a twin and the facade was twin gabled, which would be my prefered explanation, but I know how this upsets you.

Either way, the composition was resolved.

That aerial photograph also shows up the travisty that was perpetrated opposite on the Marks + Spencer site, which we'll deal with another time.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:46 pm

Hold on a second, you've gone off on an unecessary speil there. I thought it would have been clear which houses I was referring to on the three streets I named, but if it wasn't, you should have asked me. It was 18 Duke Street, with the increased spacing of windows on the second floor - which your text hasn't addressed. And the other two were 66 Capel Street and 41 Stephen's Green.

You'd better offer good explanations or theories for the window arrangements of those if you're accusing someone of not understanding things properly. And you can throw in 5a Upper Fownes Street while you're at it. Of course there are all sorts of reasons for odd spacing - alteration, semi-reconstruction, amalgamation, vernacularity etc. - but it is something that seems to come up in Dublin in this class of building more than it does abroad.

Btw the 1728 Brooking panorama shows an overwhelming majority of plain triangular gables across Dublin - http://www.dublin1850.com/brooking_skyline1.jpg .... just something you should bear in mind given that you always draw your reconstructed or restored gables with curves and pediments.

I welcome what you post here generally. We just can't allow you to over-indulge yourself ;)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:07 pm

Devin wrote:It was 18 Duke Street, with the increased spacing of windows on the second floor - which your text hasn't addressed

You'd better offer good explanations or theories for the window arrangements of those if you're accusing someone of not understanding things properly.


I thought I just dealt with 18 Duke Street.

The windows on the first and second floor don't line up, they didn't have to. 'Billy' composition wasn't dependant on a grid, the pedimented gable was such a strong and dominant feature of the design that we often see a reasonably flexible approach to the fenestration, which was almost a secondary feature of the facade, that is at least until the attic storey is reached, at which point there was usually considerable care taken to line up the upper most window [or pair of windows] with the roof ridge [or pair of roof ridges].

As we've seen in dozens of cases there was also a whole category of 'Billy' which incorporated fewer, and often wider, bays on the principal first floor compared with the floors above and below. I imagine this had to do with facilitating the desired interior fit-out scheme, which I think is the explanation you're looking for at no. 41 Stephen's Green.

Image
nos. 41 - 43 Stephen's Green. I've dotted in below the probable original gable profile of the three houses [no.41 being a twin 'Billy']
Image

The particular spacing of the windows on the first floor of no. 41 reflects the interior layout where the primary staircase occupies the two storey space corresponding to the right-hand third of the facade. The other two first floor front windows are arranged to be symmetrical to the reception room behind.

Image
interior views of the main stairwell looking back towards the entrance door and the front window . . . . and the front reception room

No. 66 Capel Street falls into the same category as no. 3 Duke St. [Marks + Spencer site] and I just don't have time at the moment to deal with all the issues that surround those particular buildings.

Regarding Brooking's map/prospect, yes triangular gables predominate, but perhaps 50 - 60% of Dublin Billys hadn't been built by 1728 and much of what Brooking depicts would have been building stock that pre-dates the surge in curvilinear-gable building which most people recognise occurred post-1690.

For example no. 41 Stephen's Green wasn't built until 1745, on land leased from James Wilkinson, and nos. 42 and 43 were built by the intrepid Billy builder, Benjamin Rudd, perhaps a year or two later. These houses and no. 44 [a probable twin-Billy] built by Wilkinson himself in 1748 or 9 were not only full-on Billys with panelled interiors and cruciform roofs, they were in a sense a repudiation of the Palladian box formula as most immediately represented by 'Tracton House' built on the adjoining corner site at no. 40 Stephen's Green a couple of years earlier in 1744.

On the various conjectural reconstructions I've attempted, these have been concentrated in areas of former Billy streetscapes, so it hardly surprising that curvilinear gables predominate, that's not to say that triangular gables weren't present in large numbers elsewhere.

Is that OK?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:12 pm

gunter wrote:The windows on the first and second floor don't line up, they didn't have to. 'Billy' composition wasn't dependant on a grid, the pedimented gable was such a strong and dominant feature of the design that we often see a reasonably flexible approach to the fenestration, which was almost a secondary feature of the facade
This is rather is tenous tbh. Non-grids or asymmetry are seen in a small minority of cases, but enough to make you wonder about the seriousness of the gabled style here.

And I can't say I've seen a decorative gable supported by anything other than a grid of windows below in other countries more readily associated with the style. No doubt you will pull one out, but it would be the rare exception.


GUNTER wrote:Image
Has it been established that the dormers here are non-original? Dormered buildings were a significant category of building here in the late 17th / early 18th century, as a glance around prints and views of the time show ......... Am just uncomfortable with curvilinear, pedimented gables as the default original treatment for every early building.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:48 am

I would suggest that seeing a non-grid-like rigidity in window spacing as somehow a flaw might be down to generations of Georgian conditioning in the matter of architectural evaluation, but if that's true, your conditioning ptobably won't allow you to accept that :)

Dormers and gables seem to have been mutually exclusive design elements at this time and in Dublin I think dormers are more usually associated with institutional buildings [RHK, Old Custom House, Library Square, Trinity etc.] than domestic streetscape buildings. The large late-Victorian gables and associated fancy brickwork at no. 41 Stephen's Green replaced lower twin hipped roofs which in turn [I believe] replaced twin blind gables.

Image Image
rear view of twin at no. 41 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .rear view of standard [I]Billy at no. 43[/I]

Judging from the evidence of the rear, the attic spaces at no. 41 were not originally habitable until the front half of the roof was raised, by close to a meter, in the late 19th century. The job was done quite sensitively and while the pair of dormers probably resulted primarily from the arrangement of rooms within the expanded attic, the duel composition at least had the benefit of reflecting the original facade treatment.

Image
grainy aerial view of this block dating to the 1950s, before no. 44 [the white painted house] was demolished [in 1969] as part of the contentious Hume St. redevelopment.

The reason that I suspect no. 44 was originally also a twin-Billy is again the particular window arrangement that you've been drawing attention to. The top floor and large transverse hipped roof seen in the aerial view are likely to have been a 19th century alteration, possibly occassioned by the destructive storm that wrecked no. 45 next door in Jan. 1839, recounted in the Georgian Society records and in O'Dwyer's 'Lost Dublin'. The pattern of three large windows on the first floor and four narrower windows on the second floor, is the same as we saw at 34 Molesworth St. and 32 Usher's quay, both pretty certain twin-Billys, and we know that no. 44 was contemporary with the Rudd Billys at 42 and 43 and that it had a panelled interior with a barley-suger-banister stair.

Image

The further fact that Tudor shows this stretch of streetscape as a terrace of [ - ok slightly generic - ] Billys in his '1748 Fireworks' print is corroboration of a kind. Does anyone have a high resolution copy of this print by any chance? the NLI on-line copy is too indistinct to post.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:41 pm

gunter wrote:Dormers and gables seem to have been mutually exclusive design elements at this time and in Dublin I think dormers are more usually associated with institutional buildings [RHK, Old Custom House, Library Square, Trinity etc.] than domestic streetscape buildings
Yes, I know dormers were mainly on the public buildings, but they are there in the smaller buildings too. And there's the Fownes Street terrace, which while maybe not the original treatment illustrates the idea of dormers in an early terrace.

It's important to air other factors and possibilities anyway, so that your visions and theories are not just let run riot across the thread ]The reason that I suspect no. 44 was originally also a twin-Billy is again the particular window arrangement that you've been drawing attention to.[/QUOTE]I'm not talking about different numbers of bays on floors - none of the examples I gave have that. I'm talking about random asymmetry, which may indicate that an amount of the gabled architecture here was rather half-baked and second hand. So don't be using me to take the conversation off in your own direction again.


gunter wrote:The pattern of three large windows on the first floor and four narrower windows on the second floor, is the same as we saw at 34 Molesworth St. and 32 Usher's quay
The records of those buildings and 44 Stephen's Green showing 3 bays up to first floor level and 4 bays above that are most probably late 18th century alterations to the lower half of the building to keep up with the times and get better proportions for the first-floor front room in particular - in the same way as 3-bay gabled buildings are frequently seen with a 2-bay first floor. No building, Georgian or pre-Georgian, would be conceived with such an unsatisfactory, clumsy principal elevation. You can walk for miles past gabled buildings in cities on the continent and not see this. Your disparaging imputations of 'rigid and restrictive' grid elevations to Georgian doctrine are thus unfounded.




Image

A matching pair of gables can be very elegant. I can see why you're attracted to the idea - Dutch example here - but when you go below a certain scale of house it's just not a runner. It generally wouldn't have been done on anything less than four bays (not including 3 bay houses that were earlier 4 bays). 41 Stephen's Green is very borderline, scale wise. I'm not convinced it was twin gabled, despite your usual hard sell.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:52 am

Devin wrote:I'm not talking about different numbers of bays on floors - none of the examples I gave have that. I'm talking about random asymmetry, which may indicate that an amount of the gabled architecture here was rather half-baked and second hand.


For a start, no. 18 Duke Street isn't actually asymmetrical, random or otherwise, and no. 41 Stephen's Green is a very sophistocated composition [in is original form], with the off-centre pedimented entrance door acknowledged in the fenestration of the first floor which then reverts to even spacing at 2nd floor level in preparation for the dramatic impact of a twin gabled finale above. On a prestigeous house like this, the gables would probably have been crowned by a pair of moulded, cut-stone, pediments that answered the proportions and detailing of the elegant door surround, such as was seen on the Cuffe Street house beside the Brick Layers Hall, below.

Image

I can't imagine anything less 'half-baked'.

Certainly, no. 66 Capel Street was a more modest affair, a three storey Billy almost identical to no. 3 Duke Street. There is a element of asymmetry in the window spacing, but it's pretty mild and, in the case of no. 66, there is the suspicion that the left-hand window on the second floor may have been edged further away from it's partner, possibly in response to an internal sub-division, when the upper half of the facade was re-faced, or rebuilt, in the 19th century.

Image Image
views before alteration of no. 66 Capel St. on the left and the similar house at no. 3 Duke St. on the right

Image Image
views of the same two houses after alteration [total rebuild with a mock facade in the case of no. 3 Duke St. [part of Marks and Spencers development]

In the case of both houses an extra storey has been grafted onto the design in the recent redevelopments, which I don't believe either house had [no. 3 Duke Street certainly didn't, as the low drain pipes and the aerial view of it's crisp steeply pitched cruciform roof clearly show . . . . we can talk about what's been done to no. 5 later].

Image

Many of the more ambitious Billy houses, as within any tradition, would have been constructed on foot of a measured plan or under the supervision of a professional. Rudd for example published a Builders Guide in Dublin in the 1730s, two copies of which apparently survive in reprinted form and have been written about by Christine Casey, whereas many of the more modest houses would have been put together in an artisan fashion, simply using a builder's experience or the guidance of a pattern book.

Personally, I think is was very honest the way that they adjusted the window positions to respect the roof ridge once the construction had risen high enough to set out the roof timbers, they could have just let the gable screen any misalignment of the facade with the roof structure, as happened on occassion in the north European tradition, see example from Lubeck below.

Image

I'm not going to touch Devin's theory on no. 44 Stephens Green, we'll just let that stand there on it's own . . . . . and the only thing I'd say about the Amsterdam example is that there's a world of difference between our Dutch Billy tradition and 17th century canal houses of Amsterdam. That particular pair posted by Devin are even more intensively developed than most, they are actually duel fronted to both the canal [Devin's picture] and the street at Zeedyk. We never attempted anything on that scale, or with such a high window-to-wall ratio. I don't think that means that our gabled tradition was less 'serious', or that it means that our gabled tradition was 'half baked'. You could just as easily say that our Georgian tradition was half-baked because it didn't attempt the grand unified facades of Edinburgh and Bath . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . actually, on reflection, I think I might have actually said that :)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:48 pm

Touchy!

Really, I don't know where it's coming from. If you're going to post anti-Georgian invective like post #501 on the previous page, don't expect the thread to just flow easily along.

You see the gabled period as the high point in Dublin's urban history. Fine. No one would try and take that away from you. But don't go undermining the whole post-1750 urban tradition in Dublin at the same time.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Punchbowl » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:18 am

ImageImage[/QUOTE]

Any news on this one? My folks are from Aungier st, and have always had an interest in it. A lot of the back windows are broken, and the ceiling beams look to be held up currently... surely because of its lack of modern intervention it holds a lot of potential to contain original interiors?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:48 pm

Punchbowl wrote:Any news on this one?


PunchbowI, I have a feeling that the upper floor timbers [to the front anyway] are modern, judging from what can be seen through the windows, the house may have been largely stripped out, but then again it may retain original features despite the amount of hacking that the exterior has suffered.

This structure has been on the Record of Protected Structures for some time now, but I think the term 'protected' is being used in a kind of euphemistic way in this case. Maybe it's the process of crumbling into dust that's being protected . . . . . how very esoteric.

Devin wrote:. . . . . . the whole post-1750 urban tradition . . . . .


:)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby tommyt » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:15 pm

To drag things a little further into the general topic- is the pastiche Billy at 18 Lwr Leeson St an historic replica or a developer's whim at the particular site?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:48 pm

It's a whim at that location, I think the last gabled house on Leeson Street was at no. 13 [the white painted house in this photo from a 1982 An Taisce booklet].

Image

No. 11 was the house where the 'Dutch' gable could still be read in the brickwork of the facade although I think I remember there being some uncertainty as to whether the gable outline was authentic or not. Either way, the house was a clear cut Billy with a cruciform roof and a largely intact panelled interior. I suspect that part of the horse trading between the developer and the planning department included the imaginative proposal to 're-construct' a Dutch Billy as part of the development, so for 12 demolished 18th/19th century houses we got x million sq, feet of offices in a giant pastiche block and a fake Dutch Billy - nice.

I suspect that the reason that the fake Billy was shoved down that other end was that it was used to make a buffer between the new office blocks and the few remaining Georgian houses on the street outside the redevelopment site.

I don't think it's ever been regarded as having much value. As well as being fake and in the wrong place, the details are too clumsy, the brick is not red enough, the roof profile is ludicrous and the gable copings are far too deep . . . . but at least it better than the Marks and Spencer Billys :rolleyes:

You would have thought that setting the bar that low . . . .
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby tommyt » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:16 pm

Thanks Gunter. Much obliged.:)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:00 pm

Yes No. 11 always read a little bit suspect in having a gable stranded in the facade, firstly as a more interlocked laying of the old and new brick would have been desirable, secondly as the whole purpose of the exercise was to conceal the fact that this was a gabled house, thirdly as the new brick would surely have mellowed more than it did, and fourthly as there doesn't appear to have been any other such stark examples in the city - a place that was rife with Billy build-ups. An odd one...

gunter wrote:...so for 12 demolished 18th/19th century houses we got x million sq, feet of offices in a giant pastiche block and a fake Dutch Billy - nice.


Yes, but who doesn't harbour a sneaky affection for that frothy mega-balcony straddling half the street ;)

It would appear C.P. Curran is another to be added to the red list!

"Tudor’s Prospect of the Parliament House, 1753, shows the debased mould into which the town was setting – a College Green and Dame Street, whose irregular houses with gables or topped with graceless triangles or the feeblest of Baroque curves fall short of the picturesque even in fallacious retrospect. Further to the west the houses in the Liberties, Dutch with some northern French admixture, were the poor first fruits of the Huguenot dispersal. From this impoverished zone of Nordic building stretching from the Dutch quarter of Potsdam to Dublin, Pearce and his immediate successors delivered us, introducing the nobility of Italian building and its metropolitan fitness."

Meoow!

It is fair to say that he is not attacking the gabled tradition exclusively. Rather, as we have seen before, the ramshackle urban plan of the city and the absence of order and coherence in its most prominent places, is colouring the author's opinion of the style. Secondly, he does not take account of the prestige areas of gabled domestic architecture, which was just coming into its own when it got usurped by Pearce and his gang - preferring, as is typical, to focus on the Liberties, where ironically a number of streets displayed more coherence than the rest of the city combined.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:25 am

GrahamH wrote:
It would appear C.P. Curran is another to be added to the red list!



Did we not discuss that grotty little man before.

A quick glance at Curran’s passage shows us the debased mould into which architectural writing on Dublin was once set. Craig might have included that quote in ‘The Architecture of Ireland’, but you knew that he was holding it with a tongs. I don't think Curran was even a proper architectural critic, at best he was a bit of a plaster knob, but even at that, did he not make an eejit of himself with his chronology of Dublin Rococo, based on a howler with the dating of Tracton, or am I thinking of a different plaster knob?

In any case, the idea of basing an appraisal of a whole architectural movement on a drawing by Tudor would be like convicting a police suspect from their likeness in a Picasso. Reading that twat, you almost feel sorry for the impoverished citizens of Lubeck and Amsterdam, condemned as they are today to live in Unesco World Heritage cities.

Thank god there's nobody like that around today :rolleyes:
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:39 pm

gunter wrote:Did we not discuss that grotty little man before.
Lol, all views tolerated on Archiseek :D
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:38 pm

Just a correction on the Bachelor's Walk three [the 3 twins at nos. 5, 6 and 7]. Aerial views I posted earlier showed the middle house without the central cross-roof element that the the other two houses had and it was speculated that this would have removed the need for a central rain water outlet on the front facade if, as I believe, these houses were originally twin gabled to the front.

Image

Image

A slightly earlier aerial view shows that no. 6 originally had exactly the same roof profile as the other two and the cross section was simply removed [as recently as the late 1950s]. This is something we'll have to bear in mind when considering other twin roofed structures, like 42 Manor Street.

Devin wrote: Before this "row" ever started, I had thought these roofs on 2-bay houses were funny, almost whimsical ... that you would go to the trouble of creating a double roof with such a short distance to span.

Here's another, now-demolished one at 27 Bachelors Walk from a 1960s photo, and from Shaw's Directory, 1850. Very much the same type of thing as 32 Thomas Street and Paddy Whelan: a Georgian building in every way but retaining some features of an earlier period (a probable full-height nib return, and a corner-fireplace plan, as indicated by the appearance of the chimney stack in Shaw's):

Image

Image



I've had another look at 27 Bachelor's Walk and . . . . Devin's not going to agree with this, but . . . . this is what I think is going on here.

Image

No. 27 is different in that the front half of the house is a storey taller than the back half. The back half appears to have been a perfectly standard, three storey [with tiny half attic], 'Billy' with characteristic return, and steeply pitched cruciform [back half only] roof. Before demolition, the two bay facade appeared to be a ninteenth century re-building so we don't have an original window arrangement to examine, but the fact that the extra storey [to the front half] was twin roofed suggests to me that the design of the house was altered very early, possibly at the time of construction, to present a more impressive facade to the street, probably incorporating the latest twin-gabled composition emerging elsewhere on Bachelor's Walk [Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 30 and probably others subsequently lost to the Sackvill Street opening].

If the extra half storey was a Georgian intervention, why would they not have put a very simple, near-pyramidal, roof on it like they did at nos. 27 and 28 South Anne Street.

Image

The 1950s aerial views show this stretch of Bachelors Walk pretty clearly to be the former 'Billy' streetscape that we know it was. Nos 23 and 24 [only demolished in the last ten years] shared a chunky central chimney stack, that Shaw also depicted along with cruciform roofs. No. 25 appears to have been a particularly large 'Billy' with a standard cruciform roof onto which two small additional dormer-scale roof volumes had been added presumably to gain extra usable floor space on the top storey once the flat parapet had gone in.

We know from Registry of Deeds records that Bachelors Walk, or Jervis Quay, was being developed incrementally from about 1726 and that development in ones, twos and threes was most rapid in the early 1730s, which was arguably the height of the 'Billy' movement in Dublin and this is the context in which I think it's plausable to interpret no. 27 as a hybrid twin-Billy whose owner reacted to the increasing prestige of the location by switching to a more adventurous plan when the house was probably still under construction, or very recently finished.

There is one other house in Dublin, from exactly the same period, which may be a second example of the same thing.

Image

No. 25 Molesworth Street has one of the most baffling roof structures in Dublin, but if you exclude all the bits and pieces that would make more sense if interpreted as alterations, you're left with a pair of steeply pitched, front-to-back, volumes confined to the front half of the building which appears to have originally been a storey taller than the rear half.

Same date range, same completely 'Billy' streetscape context . . . . could be a little sub-group :)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:19 am

It's a shame the rear portion of Buswells has so drastically altered. All we know is that it was different to the front.
Its three-bay upper elevation is certainly more plausible as original that the lower levels, and we can pretty much make out where the rainwater outlets used to be. It suggests what No. 7 Bachelor's Walk could be if of three bays originally to the upper elevation. It really goes to show though doesn't it: we almost categorically know the facade of Buswells has been altered, and yet aside from the new parapet, it is impossible to tell through the brickwork.

In the case of the odd house at No. 27 Bachelor's Walk, not only would a pyramidal roof make more sense, but a plain old parallel hipped pitch would suit even more so - it's remarkably shallow up there. Not sure I'd go along with the idea of the house being altered mid-construction - rather it is surely a simple case of intentially presenting what you cannot afford to the street, and what you can afford to the rear? By design. In which case, it is surely unfathomable in such constrainned circumstances that one would build such a convoluted, expensive roof structure unless it had architectural intent?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:09 pm

GrahamH wrote:It's a shame the rear portion of Buswells has been so drastically altered. All we know is that it was different to the front.
Its three-bay upper elevation is certainly more plausible as original that the lower levels, and we can pretty much make out where the rainwater outlets used to be.
. . . . we almost categorically know the facade of Buswells has been altered, and yet aside from the new parapet, it is impossible to tell through the brickwork.


Except that there is a brick soldier course between the three cills to the top storey windows and that wouldn't be original . . . . but it would be consistent with the notion that originally there may have been just a pair of windows on the top storey, and - if this house was a twin-Billy - this pair of windows would have been lined up with the twin roof ridges, like appears to have been the case with no. 5 down the street on the other side [shown here during demolition in the '80s]

Image

Being a hotel, with public access, a person could probably find out for sure if Buswells was originally a twn-Billy by simply booking in to one of those top floor rooms and packing a masonry hammer in an over-night bag ;)
. . . . . unfortunately, gunter's credit card is maxed out at the moment.

GrahamH wrote:It suggests what No. 7 Bachelor's Walk could be if of three bays originally to the upper elevation.


I think Graham is spot on there.

No. 7 Bachelor's Walk doesn't work as a two-bay twin-Billy, the windows don't line up with the roof ridges, but it would work as a twin-Billy if the original design incorporated the familiar Billy pattern of mixing a larger scale, two-bay, composition at first floor level with a smaller scale, three-bay, composition at second floor level, thus allowing the pair of top floor windows to slide out to positions that lined up with the roof ridges and, by extension, the gable pediments.

Image

No. 7 Bachelor's walk as it appears today with the fenestration and moulded parapet that appears to date to the 1770s, or thereabouts . . . and below, a conjectural reconstruction of it's possible appearance when originally constructed in the late 1720s or early 1730s.

Image


GrahamH wrote:In the case of the odd house at No. 27 Bachelor's Walk . . . . it is surely unfathomable in such constrainned circumstances that one would build such a convoluted, expensive roof structure unless it had architectural intent?


That's exactly the point, and also the shallowness of the pitch of the twin roofs strongly suggests [as it does with no. 120 Cork Street and no. 32 Thomas Street] that the roofs of these houses were subsequently completely re-built [above the retained original main beam and in a way that unconsciously maintaining the basic original form], which would be consistent with the notion that these houses were deliberately modernized at some point and that their current appearance is not their original appearance.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:16 pm

gunter wrote:Image

... the front half of [27 Bachelors Walk] is a storey taller than the back half. The back half appears to have been a perfectly standard, three storey [Dutch Billy]


Very interesting.

I read your suggested parallels with the Molesworth Street building gunter, but the elephant in the room here is that 27 Bachelors Walk is simply an early smaller-scaled gabled building given a four-storey Georgian front half in the late 18th century, as with the Upr. Ormond Quay house beside the Ormond Hotel mentioned earlier which is seen smaller-scaled and gabled in an old print but now has a four-storey Georgian exterior (whole building) with pre-Georgian internal features stopping abruptly on the third storey (and, on a wider level, earlier buildings with Georgian masking are of course ten-a-penny in Dublin). And thus that that front roof of 27 Bachelors Walk has no connection with twin gables.

gunter wrote:If the extra half storey was a Georgian intervention, why would they not have put a very simple, near-pyramidal, roof
Feels a bit deja vu, but anyhow: the pair of small parallel roofs were just a means of laying a roof, at a time (late 18th cen.) when it was becoming desireable to hide the roof, but when techology dictated pitches still needed to be a certain steepness. Consider that, by 1800, the technology / resistance to the elements had advanced so that shallow, very inconspicuous roofs could be laid on - for example - the D'Olier & Westmoreland Sts. Wide Streets Comms. terraces (to achieve the desired 'metropolitan fitness', no doubt ]http://img251.imageshack.us/img251/7075/astonq40s20copy.jpg[/IMG]
(Oringinally posted by rashers on the dublin.ie forum)



gunter wrote: Nos 23 and 24 Bachelors Walk [only demolished in the last ten years]
Nos. 23 and 24 are still there - converted into the Arlington Hotel.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:04 am

Devin wrote:Nos. 23 and 24 are still there - converted into the Arlington Hotel.


OK, I didn't know that, I thought the the Arlington was a complete rebuild, in mock-up.

Can we just get this straight, once and for all.

We don’t know definitively that 27 Bachelors Walk was a hybrid twin-gabled Billy, we can’t know that definitively . . . . not until a crystal clear, two hundred and fifty year old, elevation drawing drops out of a dusty folio with ‘no. 27 Bachelor’s Walk’ written on it, at which point I will definitely post it on archiseek, before going off to get a stiff drink.

All we can do, if we’re really interested in telling the story of the Dutch Billy phenomenon, is explore the typologies, evaluate suspect cases from the evidence available and gradually build up a classification that includes not just the well documented primary types, but also the numerous variations, the hybrids and the quirky oddballs that together make up this extraordinary, woefully under-appreciated, and uniquely Irish, building tradition.

Maybe you’re right and the curious twin roofs on the front half of no. 27 Bachelors walk have no particular significance.

Maybe the location of a twin-roofed structure at no. 27, within an early 18th century streetscape that includes at least four other examples of twin roof structures on top of early 18th century houses, is just a pure coincidence.

Maybe this is just an example of a characteristic double-pile lateral Georgian roof accidentally put the wrong way round by some dyslexic builder . . . ‘later in the 18th century’.

Maybe there isn’t really any such thing as the bleeding obvious.

Gabled architecture, by definition, inextricably links elevation design to roof layout, that’s what a gable is, it’s the interface of a wall with a roof structure. Unlike Georgian architecture, which employed a largely detached relationship between the street elevation and the roof structure [with the latter having little or no role in the architectural intentions], the patterns of gabled architecture within the Dutch Billy tradition are completely wedded to the patterns of roof construction, which fortunately survived a lot longer than the ornamental gables did.

It is abundantly obvious that the Dutch Billy tradition included houses that incorporated smaller gables grouped in paired and sometimes triple compositions, we know this from a small number of recorded examples [which I’ve posted time and again] and we know it from an observation of roof patterns. The roof patterns don’t lie and they’re not accidental. Of course there will be examples that defy explanation, or which give rise to misleading interpretation, but to deny that the majority of recorded twin roofed structures, occurring as they do invariably on early 18th century houses with ‘Billy’ characteristics, in ‘Billy’ contexts, goes way beyond slow learning and at this stage is bordering on special needs.

I do accept that there were a small number of twin roofed structures in Dublin which were probably not originally gable fronted, but instead appear to belong to the transitional phase between the two 18th century traditions. I don’t have a problem with that, it makes sense if the twin-gabled tradition was as strong in Dublin as the roof pattern evidence suggests that there would have been a hangover of that roof construction method in the transitional phase, just as we know that there was in the case of standard ‘Billy’ roof construction.

No. 27 Bachelor’s Walk could conceivably be an example of this ‘transitional’ type of twin-roof construction, but I would doubt it primarily because of the shallowness of the pitch which suggests a 19th century date, not the mid-to-late 18th century date that would be consistent with the transitional period, and the rational for a 19th century date would most likely be the modernization of an out-dated feature [such as the removal of pedimented gables], although it could also be the simple renewal of a transitional-period twin roof . . . . I s'pose.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:36 am

But again, why two pitches? Either they had money to burn, had a morbid aversion to downpipes, or very deviously anticipated the kerfuffle such a misleading ploy would generate two centuries later. They have a 19th century appearance to me also, which would tie in with WSC alterations along here at that time which Devin charted earlier.

Agreed about the twin roof transitional typology - I don't think anybody's disputing that many of these houses were never dual-gabled. But on the twin gable notion Devin, yes we have no explicit record per se of such houses, but equally we have (I'm open to correction on this) only a solitary depiction of a triple gable mansion - namely Speaker Foster's mansion of Molesworth Street - when we categorically know of at least, what, five, of these houses in the city? And these houses in turn only date from the latter reaches of the gabled period - surely there were earlier editions, with the Clancarty house on College Green being a variation of the type. There is little question that we need to get hacking inside some of these houses for hard evidence. In accordance with best conservation hacking of course. gunter's above depiction of No. 7 highlights in very clear terms what a handsome architectural statement such a house could make. (If that dyslexic builder was still about, we could have had a striking pair of round and triangular pediments atop - Richard Castle style ;))
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:28 pm

I just think it's a misreading. Pan over central Dublin on Bing Birdseye and what do you see everywhere? Pitched roofs of the Georgian and Victorian period, sometimes laid front-to-back and sometimes side-to-side, and all the other variants. Too much store is being placed in those double roofs. Some special meaning is being accorded them by placing the word "twin" in front of them, when really they're just one of the many variants of the 18th/19th century historic pitched roof. Just a means of constructing a roof, done largely at a certain time (I gave reasons for this in my last post). And I frankly can't buy the argument about extra expense - they're just two basic roofs, of the kind churned out everywhere at the time, and of the kind many other basic buildings have in front-to-back format. Much more convoluted roofs can be seen. I don't particularly want to keep coming back to it, but whenever I'm not contributing to the thread the twin gable creed is just pushed again, harder than ever. Conservation analysis and consideration is based on getting the origin and truth of historic structures, what it tells you about the culture etc., so if we feel something is being misread it's important to say so, that's all.
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