Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

Home Forums Ireland ‘Dutch Billys’ Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’


@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.

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.

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

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].

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.

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 🙂

Latest News