Sarah Halford

Architecture and Ceramics

over your head

The roofs of the Chateaux in the Loire valley are largely inspired by Italian renaissance architecture, and the broken, ornate and complex roof geometry often seen in Italy. Above at Chambord was the most ridiculous example of this, with a broken roofline composed of turrets, dormers of differing sizes and no less than four designs of chimney stack. The roofs are typically steeply pitched, with ornate finials and all the trimmimngs in small pices of slate, rather than lead sheeting, as is usual today.

Villandry – slate flashing

The eaves detail is typically the edge of the slate overhanging a small amount, with either a gutter nailed above the eaves or else no gutter at all.

Azay-le-Rideau – note the false machilocations and crenulations around the turrets, taken from French medieval fortress architecture.

The water is shed either away from the building or back onto the stone walls. This wouldn’t be so bad if the stone weren’t so soft. A penknife can easily mark this soft French stone, and it stains easily

bad staining below the dormer

I have always lived in the UK, and find it hard to wrap my head around the absence of any guttering system. If we did this in Scotland the walls would be a disgusting mess, with wind-driven rain pouring vertically down and finishes, pooling around the face of dormers… it wouldn’t look good for long.

As an illustration of the softness of the stone they keep the last roof in the ground floor exhibition. It had to be replaced due to erosion of the detail and damage to the structure. The photo above is the restored roof over the central staircase. Below is the previous incarnation.

Love a fleur-de-lys myself, and here they are liberally applied, even in rotational symmetry.

The centrepiece of the roof at Chambord; the extension of the helical staircase [some say designed by Da Vinci despite little evidence] was the only place I would find a downpipe. It’s a pretty good downpipe, mind you


3 comments on “over your head

  1. hokulais
    May 28, 2011

    Are helical staircases obsolete?

    • sarahhalford
      May 28, 2011

      What a strange question; either you’re a very well programmed spambot or you don’t understand the word ‘obsolete’. I wonder which?

  2. Pingback: laugh like a drain « Sarah Halford

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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