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Dundee University - The Urban Conservation Glossary
Category: Architecture and Buildings > Urban conservation
Date & country: 16/01/2008, UK
Words: 876


Dentil Course
rectangular projecting blocks (dentils) , tightly spaced like teeth, usually below cornices (from Latin, Denticulus, a tooth). Dentilation simply refers to the presence of dentils on a building.

Derby or hawk - Float
a flat board usually around 18' square with a projection on its underside which allows it to be hand held, used by plasterers to carry a small amount of the material they are working to the wall face, to which it is smoothed on using a plasterers trowel often referred to simply as a float, s...

Design and Build
just as the name suggests, design and build involves one body, usually a contractor, who, once selected by a developer, both designs and constructs the project. This can work successfully where a situation is routine and the contractor has a good track record in a particular type of develope...

Dew point
see vapour barrier.

Diaper brickwork
a diamond pattern, achieved by using bricks of different colours.

Die
the body of a pedestal, between the base and the cornice. Also refers to the squared end of a turned baluster but is now most commonly used to describe the block ending a parapet or balustrade or forming a structural division within it.

Diminishing courses
a term usually applied to slates where it was common for the size of the slate to decrease towards the ridge. It seems an eminently sensible way to build stone walls, but the practice has seldom been applied to masonry construction.

Discontinuous roofing
a general term applied to any roofing material not laid in a sheet eg slate and tile. I have never heard the term applied to thatch, although it would seem to fit the definition.

Ditch - Moat
an excavation in front of a rampart which presents an obstacle to the attackers and provides excavated material which can be used in construction of ramparts. Commonly referred to as a 'moat.' See fortification.

Docks - Wet, Graving, Floating
wet docks are docks which maintain a guaranteed depth of water at all times, which often involves the use of gates. Graving docks are dry docks ie they can be closed and pumped dry. Floating docks are in effect, floating dry docks, which can be towed to where they are required. To date,...

Dogleg
a flight of stairs which doubles back on itself.

Doocot
(Scottish) see dovecote or pigeon house.

Dook Hole \ Dook
(Scottish) hole drilled in masonry or plaster for a fixing. The dook is the wooden plug filling the hole.

Door sill or Storm Bar
bar fitted to the bottom rail of a door, designed to keep out rain.

Door stop
projecting strip on the door frame against which the door closes.

Door-doorway
a doorway includes opening door and surrounds, the doorcase, which can take a variety of forms, having consistently evolved with the architectural styles of the time. They can be arched, rectangular, deeply recessed, flush, bipartite, tripartite etc. Basically the doorcase is there for decora...

Doric
The most massive and probably the oldest of the orders. The Greek doric had no base, the Romans added one. Shafts are fluted, numbers vary, but there are usually around twenty. The height of the column is between four-and-and-a-quarter and eight diameters. The entablature ...

Dormer - cheeks - haffits
timber wall plate. A dormer window therefore in the proper sense of the word, is a window built off the wallhead, but the term is used to describe any window projecting from the pitch of a roof. The vertical sides of a dormer are usually referred to as the 'cheeks' or haffits (S). Dormers...

Dote
the name given to timber surfaces which have just started to break down due to fungal decay but which are still structurally sound. Also known as incipient decay. Timbers so affected are sometimes referred to as 'dosy' See Dry Rot/Wet Rot.

Double pile plan
a plan which has two rooms throughout the depth of the building ie, a room at the front matched by a room at the rear.

Dove
a plasterers trowel. Basically a largish, rectangular metal plate with handle attached.

Draw bar - Mural Cavity
a heavy bar, usually timber, often concealed within the wall thickness (the hole would properly be described as a mural cavity), which could be drawn across a door to secure it.

Dressings - accents
all embracing term, used to describe stones worked to a smooth face and used to form features such as string courses or window margins which contrasts with the surrounding facing material. Dressed stonework is any stone which has been cut to a smooth face. Stone dressings in a brick buildi...

Drip
a groove cut into the underside of any projection eg a sill, to prevent water running back onto the face of the building.

Dripmould
a horizontal moulding on the face of a building, designed to shed water.

Drum
either a section from a cylindrical column, or the lower part of a dome.

Dry Dash
method of harling in which the aggregate is dashed on dry, and not incorporated into the mix.

Dry rot-wet rot
the problems associated with the decay of timber in buildings have spawned a huge and often damaging industry, which has been able to feed on the ignorance, fear and panic which surrounds the subject. Much historic fabric has been needlessly removed, and toxic chemicals introduced into buildi...

Dry stone
building in stone without mortar, which rely on the skilful placing of stones so that each locks securely in place, for strength and durability. One of the oldest forms of construction, the most common and some of the best, examples are field boundries and, it is well worth considering the fa...

Dry Stone Walling Association
formed in 1968 to ensure the maintenance of good craftsmanship, the protection of dry stone structures, and the future of the trade. The association keeps a professional register.

Duality
occurs where a building has two visual axis, which cause it to split into two equal and visually disturbing, parts. Where the duality exists but has been designed out for example by the use of decoration, the duality is said to be resolved.

Dubbing out
the practice of filling the larger voids in an uneven surface prior to plastering or rendering, often using brick or tile to avoid extra thickness.

Duckboards
slatted boards which allow a person to walk over a vulnerable surface eg a lead gutter without damaging that surface. They should be positioned in such a way that they allow any water that gathers to 'wind blow' dry. (Illustration)

Dummy Window or Door
blind opening, usually composed of simple recessed panels but sometimes glazed or painted, which has been introduced for reasons of symmetry or architectural balance. While it did happen, it is quite wrong to assume that all blocked openings were a result of the window tax.

Dumpy level
a survey instrument consisting of a telescope and spirit level which, used with a measuring staff, allows differences in height to be recorded. See Measured Survey.

Dun
Gaelic and earlier celtic for fort. Usually applied to small, round late Iron-Age/Roman Period hill top fortifications.

Dwang - noggins
(Scottish) a timber inserted between joists or studs as reinforcement, noggins in other parts of the country.

Easing Courses
The first three or four courses of a pantiled roof are often in slate. These are known as easing courses and offer better protection to the wallhead, can allow more room to seat a wallplate, and disperse the channels of water formed in the pantiles which in periods of heavy rain can splas...

Eaves
the lower edge of a sloping roof, where it overhangs the wallhead. The eaves course is the lowest course of tiles or slates. Lined eaves, are eaves where a soffit board has been fitted to conceal rafter ends.

Eaves Cornice
wallhead cornice under the eaves of a roof.

Ecclesiastical exemption
an exemption from the provisions of The Ancient Monuments Act 1913 secured by the Church of England by reviving the churches system of Facility Jurisdiction, which it is claimed, offered adequate safeguards against destruction. This does not prevent buildings being listed, but means that th...

Echinus
a convex moulding forming part of the capital in doric and ionic orders, below the abacus. See Classic Architecture

Eco - labelling
a scheme to award 'labels' to products which are environmentally friendly by comparison with simiar goods. Should prove interesting when applied to products used by the building industry.

Edge bedding
occurs where the layers of the stone are vertical and run at 90 degrees to the plane of the wall. Projections such as cornices and pediments should be edge bedded. Increasingly, the French term en delit is used to describe this technique, which neatly avoids the confusion which can ari...

Edge roll
a circular moulding at the edge of an opening.

Edwardian
the period of the reign of King Edward VII 1901 -1910, which, with influence from Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau, was less dependant on past styles and therefore produced a more simplistic, direct and human architecture, than the Victorian era.

Efflorescence
an unsightly white powdery deposit on the surface of stone, brick or cement work, caused by soluble salts being drawn to the surface where they then crystallise. Efflorescence is usually harmless and can be brushed off when dry.

Eligible works
it is seldom that all of the work undertaken in a building contract is eligible for grant aid. The portion of the works which are supported are the eligible works. A bill of quantities should make this distinction.

Elizabethan
building style of Elizabeth 1 of England. (It is argued that it should not be applied to Scotland) A time of transition from Gothic to Renaissance, so a mixture of old and new concepts, with vernacular design mixed in. Church building had halted and industrial building was primitive, so the...

Ell
an American term for a single storey addition to a building, usually containing a kitchen, which is at right angles to the existing building, thereby creating an 'ell' shape. Also a unit of measurement based on the length of an arm, and therefore a bit over a yard, mostly used for measuring c...

Embodied energy
the amount of energy used to construct a building in terms of extraction of materials, manufacture, transport and assembly on site

Embrasure
a small opening in a wall or parapet, usually with splayed reveals which allows guns to be fired from cover. See fortification.

Emergency works
a local authority can undertake works urgently necessary for the preservation of a listed building, or unlisted building in a conservation area, The works must be the minimum necessary to ensure survival of the building ie a tarpaulin over a hole in the roof, temporary s...

Emergency works and advice scheme
a new English Heritage initiative to run for one year only (up to April 2000) targetted at privately owned buildings and structural ancient monuments. It is designed to help owners to deal with sudden emergencies bought on by fire, flood etc. The intention is to prevent the rapid deteriorati...

Enabling development
is development which would normally be rejected as contrary to planning policy, but is entertained on the basis that it would bring benefit to a heritage asset. A typical example might be the granting of consent for housing development within the policies of a historic building, on the basis ...

Enciente
the continuous outline or perimeter of a fortification, which is usually taken to follow the main line of defences.

Endoscopy
visual survey using specialised equipment such as fibre optics, which allows sight of areas usually innacessable to the surveyor.

Enfilade
a suite of rooms, which open into each other in a continuous sequence. - fire from, for example, a bastion which is capable of raking along an advancing line of attackers, thereby inflicting maximum casualties. See fortification .

Engineering brick
a dense, robust brick, suitable for use in heavy duty structures, ie viaducts.

English bond
a bond consisting of alternate courses of headers and stretchers. See brick/brickwork.

English Heritage
The popular name for The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, formed 1984 as a quango responsible for virtually all aspects of the conservation of the historic environment, including making recommendations for grants to The Historic Buildings Council, but is ultimately answ...

English Historic Towns Forum
created in 1987 in order to reconcile prosperity and conservation in historic towns. The forum set out to establish contact between local authorities with responsibility for historic towns, circulate information on critical management issues, and express a collective view on proposals likel...

Enrichment
any form of decoration on buildings consisting of applied, carved or painted ornament.

Entablature
the upper part of an order, consisting of cornice, frieze and architrave. Essentially the beam which spans between columns. Literally it means something laid upon a table, ie flat. See Classical Architecture.

Entasis
very slight convex curve put on columns and sometimes other structures such as spires to prevent the optical illusion of them appearing concave, ie, bending outwards.

Escutcheon
an ornamental covering to a keyhole. A drop escutcheon has a hinged or pivoting flap covering the keyhole. Also, a shield bearing a coat of arms.

Espagnolette bolt
a long vertically hung bolt, with a handle fixed at a convenient height for securing side hung casement at top and bottom. Occasionally they are used on doors.

Esplanade
cleared space on which people can walk, as a relief from the overcrowding of the town or fort, and which offers a field of fire to defenders, situated between a town and its citadel or immediately within the walls of a fortification.

Europa Nostra
formed in 1963 as a federation of independant conservation bodies and historic town representitives, currently over 200, in 23 European countries. Merged with The International Castles Institute in 1991. Basic aim is to raise awareness of the architectural and natural heritage through award s...

European Standards
the European Committee for standardisation usually referred to as CEN from the French - Comite Europeen de Normalisation. Exists, as the name suggests, to rationalise the various standards that exist across the member states. In many cases they introduce standards which are stricter and less...

Exit strategy
in effect, the way in which a project is planned to finish and enable the developer to recoup his outlay and realise a profit. Much conservation work, particularly where restoration and new uses is involved, carries a degree of risk, and an exit strategy, while unfortunately all too often a...

Expansion joint
in its simplest form, a vertical joint in a wall packed with soft material which accommodates expansion. The building regs require such a joint every seven metres.

Extension of time
an extension of time to a contract period authorised by the architect for reasons of adverse weather conditions, an unusual number of variations etc. The reasons for which an extension of time may be granted are usually given in the conditions of contract.

Extractives
small amount of substances aditional to the major components of wood which give timbers their own colour and odour. Resin is the best known.

Extrados
outer curve of the voussoirs. See arch. (Illustration)

Fabric
the physical material from which a building is constructed.

Facade
front or face of a building, usually implies an architectural treatment. A nice way to think of it is as a business card which the building presents to passers by.

Facadism
the practice of retaining the front elevation (facade) and constructing a new and usually larger building behind it. While it is a practice much condemned by conservationists, in fact there can be arguments in its favour, but it needs careful handling.

Face bedding
occurs where the layers of the stone are vertical and parallel to the plane of the wall. Usually leads to extensive powdering and scaling of the stone. (Illustration)

Facing brick
a brick whose colour and durability is suitable for the exposed face of a wall.

Faience
glazed earthenware, usually cream, used as a decorative cladding, particularly in the earlier 20th century, retail, cinema and industrial facades (first manufactured at Faenza in Italy). It is produced by firing twice, first without and then with a glaze.

Fan vault
resembles a fan! Constructed in concave ribs of equal length, which spring from a central point. The ribs meet, or nearly meet at the apex or crown of the vault.

Fanlight
glazed area above door, designed to brighten the halls of Georgian Houses. Fanlights were often supurb examples of craftmanship and imaginative design and tended to reflect current fashion and technology. Initially timber, they became more delicate as technology improved ...

Fascia
the broad, horizontal board over a shopfront which carries the name of the shop, can be ornamental, with consoles and cornice. Also, a board carrying the rainwater gutter. In Classical Architecture - a plain horizontal band in an architrave.

Feather edge
where harling is reduced to the thinnest possible coat, to give way to dressed stone, limewash etc. Also refers to reduced thickness in timber boards.

Fenestration
the manner in which windows are arranged in an elevation.

Ferneries
purpose built greenhouses or shaded outdoor areas for raising ferns, often planted in roots, tree stumps and rock work. An essential element in the Victorian and Edwardian garden (see Conservatory, Greenhouse, Stovehouse, Orangery, Orchard House).

Festoons - Swags
ornament in the form of a garland of fruit or flowers, suspended near both both ends, so that the centre sags and the ends hang vertically. Commonly called a swag. (Illustration)

Feu
a piece of land on which feu duty is required to be paid. The feu duty is an annual payment, for the right to use a piece of land. The person receiving the payment is the feudal superior. Frequently seen as a tiresome burdon, it can sometimes introduce quite sensitive control, where the conse...

Fieldwalking
the collection of artefacts and/or remains from the surface of the land. Often from fields where they might have been turned up by the plough.

Figure
the pattern revealed on the surface of wood after it has been sawn.

Fillet
a thin, flat band, running between mouldings, the purpose of which is to both separate and define them.

Final certificate
a certificate stating that the works are now complete and the client is due a full and final settlement to the contractor. see contract.

Finial
topmost featured ornament, freestanding above spire gable etc. The pineapple, which was known as the welcome fruit was a popular model for finials but so were acorns and pinecones, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them without careful scrutiny.

Finishing coat
a final coat of render or plaster, usually very smooth, often with painting in mind. The application of this coat is often referred to by the plasterers as 'fining off'.

Fire hooks
Fire hooks, used to pull burning thatch from roofs were at one time fairly common impliments, and along with the simple bucket were were the earliest fire fighting appliances.

Fire marks
plates issued by insurance companys and fixed to buildings to enable the company to identify which buildings were insured by them. A vast number of designs evolved, there were over 150 companies and most of them produced a number of variants. Many of them feature a ...

Firemark Illustration
One of the most familiar firemarks. The Sun fire office established in London in 1710. Illustrated is the Bath Sunplate. (Detail)

Fireproof jack-arch construction
a fireproof construction involving a cast iron frame holding in place brick arches. A jack arch is an arch one brick thick.

Firing
the process of changing dried mud into an approximation of stone by heating to extreme temperatures in a kiln. See brick.