Category Archives: Design

Jemima Grey’s Chinoiserie Fabrique at Wrest Park. Part 3. Chinese Elements, Function, Typology and Sources

Chinese Elements There is not much Chinese about the fabrique. It has a dragon on the pinnacle, which was easy to miss in 2013 (Fig. 4), but must be much more conspicuous now that it has been gilded (Fig. 13). … Continue reading

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On Recent Proposals for Rebuilding the Roof and Spire of Notre Dame

Within a month of the destruction by fire of the roof and flèche (crossing spire) of Notre Dame in Paris, proposals by architects for their replacement abound. Why are these designs so awful? The answer is simple: they lack respect. … Continue reading

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Chinoiserie Fabriques Part 2: William Kent

William Kent, Design for Chinoiserie garden temple, showing plan and detailed elevation with bamboo porch, c. 1730–1735. Pen and brown ink and brown wash on paper. London, Victoria and Albert Museum, E.384-1986. (Fig. 1)   English Chinoiserie pavilions explored a … Continue reading

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The Gateway at Montacute Pavilion and the Palazzo del Te

Although the gateway arch was initially intended to have been based on Serlio’s Libro Estraordinario, as it has unfolded it has become the Mannerist Gateway. The inside façade is based on Michelangelo’s Porta Pia, the outside one on Giulio Romano’s … Continue reading

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On Organic Geometry

In Luke Syson and Dora Thornton’s Objects of Virtue there is a nice comparative illustration of a carved ivory knife handle after Francesco Salviati (Fig. 1)[1] and a print by Cherubino Alberti of two designs of knife handles by Salviati … Continue reading

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Onion Domes and the Spire of the Dresden Hofkirche (1738-51), with asides on the Frauenkirche

Onion domes are seen here as being extravagantly exotic. They are certainly un-English and un-Australian. While ogee curves are common enough here in neo-Elizabethan buildings and Victorian bandstands, I cannot think of an example of an ‘onion’ dome. But first … Continue reading

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On Natural Timber Finishes

My experience with using natural timber finishes on the Montacute carport and other projects. Continue reading

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Grosssedlitz and the Grassy Pool

Grosssedlitz (yes, it has three s’s) is an intriguing unfinished baroque garden outside Dresden. It was begun in 1719 by August Christoph Count von Wackerbarth before being acquired by Augustus the Strong, who lost interest in it apart from having … Continue reading

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The Bed in the Marriage of Alexander and Roxane in the Villa Farnesina (1517)

  This fresco is ground upstairs in the Villa Farnesina, Rome. The Villa Farnesina was the villa of Agostino Chigi, the banker to Julius II and the richest man in Rome. His first wife had died childless and his mistress, … Continue reading

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On Garden Gateways: Part 1. Serlio’s Libro Estraordinario

Sebastiano Serlio’s Libro Estraordinario (Lyons, 1551, also 1558 and 1560) contrasts thirty rustic gateways with twenty ‘delicate’ ones. In a well-known passage, Serlio describes how he came to conceive them: ‘… finding myself continually in this solitude of Fontainebleau, where … Continue reading

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