Dictionary #1: Introduction & Other Stuff

One of the first things I’ve noticed coming into an architect’s practice (and something architects are constantly being mocked for) is the terminology used. There is a literally a name for everything. And if you don’t know what it is, it’s probably a noggin. I’ve also noticed that it’s  not always easy to find british terminology online. All this, combined with the fact I too love to call things by their correct name (or rather, I hate not knowing the name for that thing that sticks out with the things that you see all the time on those other things..  you know?) has lead me to start a Dictionary section. I’ll try and be as helpful, precise and correct as possible, but do let me know if I’ve missed the point somewhere..

Today: General Doors, Windows, Fireplace and Panel walls

Number 1Panel Door: The Top Rail should be fairly self explanatory, the topmost, horizontal part of the door leaf (that is, the part that opens). Bottom rail can be calculated with the same formula. The Lock rail is the horizontal part of the door that includes the lock. The vertical battens on the outer edges of a door leaf are called Stiles. Now, I’ve read that when two doors meet (like above) the internal ‘stiles’ become ‘muntins’, but I’ve also been told a muntin is the vertical separation between two panels.. so this may need some more clarification (not a great start I guess..)

Return: Now, unlike a recess which protrudes back into the wall, a return is when a wall or similar object jets out from the main line of the wall. Granted, that’s not very clear on the above drawing, but the fireplace pops out.

Fireplace: Now surely you know what this is, but you might not know that an Inglenook is a recess in the wall (see note above) that houses a fireplace. The Mantel is the part you put your photo frames on, and the vertical bit below that is a header. Either side of the fireplace could be called Pilasters, Jambs or Legs. A pilaster is a column that jets out of the wall, but the name is often given to column-like-objects. Another example of a pilaster that I learnt this week is the bit you see in-between cubicle doors.

Sash Window: I wrote a lot for this one, and then decided there are too many parts of a window and my diagram doesn’t help .. so I’ll come back to this. I will say though, that this style of Sash opening (pulling the bottom pane up) is known as Yorkshire light, and yes its Cill not sill.

Panelling: Panelling is made by creating a frame of thick wood, for example, and then slotting a thinner piece in the middle, to make a Panel. The Dado is the horizontal, thicker piece, that breaks up the panels, and the moulding on that is a Dado Rail. There is a bottom rail, and on top of this is the Skirting Board, designed to protect the wall from batterings from feet and furniture. At ceiling level (although can be on the exterior of a building too) is the cornice, a horizontal moulding with a decorative underside.

I’ll be back with a window..


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