Monday, August 21, 2023

Stratford Hall - Part III: Designing with Brick


I had just published 2 posts on the practical geometry used to frame/construct Stratford Hall.*

The thinking, drawing, and writing about the overall structure of the Hall was done. 

I began exploring the drawings. 

The window layout was rhythmic, straight forward: all the windows on each floor were the same size. The space between them as well as the spaces between them and the corners were equal.  


As an architect I have used this pattern on new wings for old houses. I would size the windows to compliment the existing; then divide the remaining space evenly. Or perhaps I would give a little more width to the outside walls, depending on room layout requirements.**

Here, I thought, is a similar layout. 

However,  I was wrong.

As I thought about the proportions I was laying out a wood frame:  locating posts, beams, center lines of windows, heights indicated for headers, a window schedule. I was building the structure. The character of the exterior and interior would come later with the addition of sheathing, siding, and plaster finished with trim and moldings. 

The interior and the exterior of a brick frame are the structure, they are not added later. Stratford Hall was built of brick. Its character comes from the manipulation of the brick.

So, from the beginning the masons who worked for William Walker, the Master Builder, needed to know:  


Where to lay Flemish Bond using brick of just one color? Where use the whiter bricks as headers?

Where to leave window openings? How wide, how tall? 




What brick pattern to use at the window openings? How many bricks? At the corners of the wings too?

Where to use a flat arch as a header? Where a rowlock arch? 

Where to place the brick cap and make the brick wall thinner?

That question was easy to answer: where the wall diminishes just above the joist pockets which hold the main floor joists.



In this image you can see how much information William Walker had to give the masons as they began. 

How many rows at grade before the  
the corner brick pattern begins, as well as the use of lighter headers?

What is the height of the ground floor windows, and their width?  

The brick details at the sides windows and at the corner which needed careful calculations are visible here.             

The black line at the corner is an electrical cord.


When I knew the issues I could ask the question:  

How did William Walker, Master Builder, lay out the elevations?


I will propose some answers in the next post.

*  See previous posts: 

** I knew about the use of proportion and rhythm in architecture and applied it for many years before I 'discovered' Practical Geometry. I studied the illustration in pattern books without understanding the numbers engraved along the sides of those drawings nor pausing to read the texts. I did not 'discover' the practical use of geometry: I finally read the text in the books and studied the scales.





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