The Casual Buttress: Certainty and Contingency in the Study of the Vernacular

Andrew Clancy

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Impromptu accretions such as the buttresses in Robin Walkers photograph are moments that are familiar in the architecture of the everyday. Indeed the buttress is a very common occurrence with these cottages in particular, their mud walls being poor at resisting concentrated lateral loading. While not always required the buttress emerges when requirements to create spaces to support inhabitation are at odds with the external form and construction of the buildings. These points of disjunction are resolved in an additive fashion externally. The location varies from structure to structure, occasionally the buttress is be used as a point of connection for further structures, becoming subsumed in outbuildings or walls. This preponderance to variety means that it is omitted from the reductive drawings of type that classify these buildings and yet it occurs in enough for it to have a fundamental and transformative relationship to the generality of cottages.
    What is of interest is not so much what these structures hold in common, but rather what differentiates them. It is their capacity for variety within a defined range which allows them at once to speak at once of broader social structures and of a specific place and person.
    Using the above observation this paper treats of the failure of architectural typological studies of the vernacular to derive anything other than formal exemplars, and posits an alternative approach based on a focus on the technical construction of such buildings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusIn preparation - 25 Jan 2013
    Event'Emerging Research' The All Ireland Architectural Research Group (AIARG) Conference - Limerick, Ireland
    Duration: 25 Jan 201326 Jan 2013


    Conference'Emerging Research' The All Ireland Architectural Research Group (AIARG) Conference


    • Kevin Kieran Award


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