Split Pediment

The musings of a Brighton-based architecture dweeb and town planner in training.

Tag: corbel

Whistlestop Edinburgh Old Town Tour

As you both know, when I’m not filling the electro-pages of this here blog, I have one of those thrillingly exciting day jobs working for MI5 to hunt down members of cryptofascist international terrorist organisations beginning with the letter T. Once every year, me and the other lads and lasses gather in a top-secret conference centre in one of a number of medium-sized northern European towns and get down to some serious Sudoko. This year, you will be pleased to hear, I won the bronze badge for Looking Through Binoculars at Inappropriately Innocent and/or Scantily-clad Civilians.

Anyways, my wonderful superiors at MI5 gave me a little time off for bad behaviour in which I managed to surruptitiously take a few photographs of the city I was in. You may be able to identify said city through the photos contained herein, or by deciphering the cunning clue in the title of this blog post.

The architecture in this city has a range of peculiarities. It is characterised by the use of a lot of solid, hard-wearing grey stone. And, whilst I didn’t have an opportunity to venture into the new town part of the city (all Georgian gentility and grand, wide crescents) there is a strong Classical bent in the buildings of the old town. Like this:

And like this:

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Kimbernouns, Corbels & not Modillions

So Comrade Kimber has requested a shout-out which is, truth be told, long-overdue. So – in another semi-regular feature I would like to introduce for your delectation a brand new compound noun.

The Kimbernoun.

Kimbernoun: n. A recurring post on the fashionable and informative web-log Split Pediment (written by the celebrated writer and raconteur Mr Robert T McNicol) taking the form of a visual encyclopedia and defining an architectural feature.

[I’ve just read that first paragraph back and it seems to suggest that the defining of compound nouns will be the regular feature. It won’t, of course. And both you clever people know what I meant.]

So with that in mind I give you the:

Corbel n. A bracket used to support, or imply the supporting, of a projecting feature such as a cornice, balcony or window frame. Often decorative.

These three corbels are featured on Brighton Town Hall (an impressively “correct” neo-Classical building). They almost certainly do nothing to actually support the balcony but they look like they do; they give the appearance of transferring the weight of the balcony to the wall it abuts and then down to the ground.

Corbels are often scroll-like in shape and can be small and understated in a Georgian style, like these little teasers:

Or doubled and topped with lions’ heads:

In this picture below, there are a pair of corbels used to support the top of the alcoved windows. But also there are a row of repeating brackets along the underside of the cornice. Whilst these may look like corbels, they’re actually Modillions.

Modillions are another Classical feature which reflect the original wooden beams which would have been used to support the roof on early buildings.

There you have it: the humble corbel.