Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Engaging discussion and pictures. In all honesty, I don’t really see the core of the argument here – it’s shades of grey, circulating around one’s interpretation of ‘coherent’.

In simple factual terms, we know that large amounts of streetscape in Dublin was entirely gabled; the form that it took may have been varied, but it was gabled. In terms of building tradition, it is fair to say that Dublin had a coherent gabled outlook, but unlike Amsterdam or Haarlem, did not have the input of architects or established architectural patterns to nearly the same extent. It seems that where this influence did filter through, it was imitated elsewhere, rather than religiously copied – hence the vernacular peculiarity of Dublin gabled houses.

The other factors to bear in mind are planning principles rather than purely architectural ones. Amsterdam and other continental cities appear to have had their equivalents of the Wide Streets Commissioners and rigid estate and city management a good century earlier than Dublin did. In this sense, it is not necessarily the gabled architecture in these cities that is coherent, but rather their urban form. It is unfair to compare Dublin to them in this respect.

In conclusion, I have to side with gunter on the dominance – let’s leave coherence out of it – of the gabled building tradition of 17th and early 18th century Dublin. Where I’d differ slightly is on the ‘transition period’ of the early-mid 18th century. I wouldn’t say for a moment that Georgian houses landed in Dublin ‘fully formed’, and that transitional houses are a small group unto themselves – I see the latter as being precisely that architectural transition, but on a city-wide level. These are the monuments to change. Yes it is fair to say that Gardiner houses were largely landed from outer space, but that’s where I’d draw the line. Everything else of this period as far as I’m concerned is a locally-driven transitional movement.

Also on the dates you raised earlier gunter, I wouldn’t quite extend the transition right up to the 1780s – the 1770s saw the last peculiarities of what was already an almost dead style, and in an urban context even the late 1760s is pushing it I feel. Just on the chimneybreast issue – interestingly, the transitional Cleo house on Kildare Street features centrally-placed stacks in the front rooms and corner stacks to the rear! A very nice sign of the times, keeping the beloved corner stack out of public view šŸ™‚

In Amsterdam, original stepped gables are to them quite like what Dutch Billies generally are to us. They’re as rare as hen’s teeth. If I remember rightly, there’s only about 15 left, and this was one of them.

Careful now – nobody move a muscle!

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