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


Parapet
the upstand of a wall above another structure, such as a roof or terrace.

Pargeting - Comb work
originally a course plaster, now taken to refer to decorative plaster design either in relief or incised, applied to the exterior of buildings, usually to timber frames. Can also refer to an internal finish applied to masonry flues. Incising is easier and is often referred to as 'comb work'...

Parish
a district supporting its own established church and minister. Parish records are an invaluable archive source. The National Statistical Account is based on parish records, and the statutory lists are still compiled on the basis of parish boundaries. see heritors

Parterre
formal garden laid out on a flat terrace, usually at the front of a house so that it is overlooked by the principle rooms on the first floor (parterre = on the ground). The intricate designs are usually picked out using low growing clipped shrubs, but some were devoid of plant material, the...

Pastiche
a design incorporating copies of styles, or in imitation of its neighbours. Generally used derogatively to describe a copy that doesn't work.

Patent slating
is large slates laid with no lap, where the joints are mortared and covered with slate fillets. More usually seen where stone slates are used.

Patina
the weathering or aging of the exposed surface of a material, which can involve colour change, e.g. copper turns green, while lead goes from silver to grey.

Patination oil
used to prevent the white carbonate which is produced by new lead (Illustration), until a patina is formed.

Pattern
an exact replica of an object, usually made in timber, around which a mould is constructed from which new castings can be produced. see cast/wrought iron The word was occassionally used as a synonym for an architects plan. Pattern books of architectural details were in common use in the eig...

Pavilion
architect designed, richly decorated garden buildings, usually including several principal rooms, together with kitchens, and built to provide an alternative mini-residence to the main house, to which they were often added as wings or connected to, by flank walls.

Pavilions of Splendour
an estate agency specialising in historic properties, the company has linked with the Association of Preservation Trusts to market properties saved by Building Preservation Trusts.

Pavillion roof
a roof that is hipped at both ends.

Paviors
specially hard bricks used for surfacing work on pavements, roads etc.

Payback period
the time required in the life of a building to pay off all outstanding debts so that, with the exception of maintainance costs, any future rentals is pure profit. The energy payback period is the period of time required to allow the cumulative savings in energy use to equal the initial outl...

Peat beds
raised areas of peat for growing ericaceous (lime hating) plants such as alpines, heathers, azaleas and rhododendrons.

Pedestal
base of a column or pillar, foundation or base.

Pediment
classical form of corniced gable or gablet used at openings as well as a termination to roof structures. Usually triangular, occasionally semi-circular, can be open ie when the sloping sides stop short of the apex, or broken, when the base, for whatever reason, is incomplete. The apex stone...

Peel tower
a name given to a defensive tower in and around the Scottish borders (pile).

Pend
open-ended passageway through a building; usually vehicular as against close which is pedestrian. Originally a Scots word for an archway, as distinct from an open lane or vennel. See close, alley.

Pendant
a feature which hangs from a vault or ceiling.

Pendentive
a sort of curved triangle, which is the solution to the problem of placing a dome on top of a square. The pendentive is in effect, a section of a dome, in the shape of a triangle which rises from a corner of the square, to meet in a circle from which the base of the dome can be constructed. ...

Pergola
an open structure, often over a walkway, built to support and encourage vines, climbing shrubs and fruit trees.

Peristyle
a row of columns surrounding a temple or courtyard.

Perpend
(perpendicular end) vertical cross joint in stone or brickwork. Perpends also refer to the ends of walls first built up by bricklayers to provide a level for the courses in between. See brick/brickwork and racking back.

Persiennes
louvred shutters.

Pevsner, Nicholaus
noted architectural historian. Author of 'Buildings of England'. Architectural guides, begun 1951, now 46 volumes, made the architectural heritage available to all, causing many people to, for the first time both appreciate and understand buildings. 'Buildings of Scotland' began by Colin McWil...

PFA
pulverised fuel ash, an additive used to achieve a hydraulic set in lime mortar.

Photogrammetry
a technique designed to overcome the problems of displacement caused by camera tilt, variations on the surface of the subject being photographed etc, in which stereo photography is used (stereo plotted) to provide a three dimensional image of the subject. In basic terms, it c...

Physic Garden
a Botanic Garden specialising in medicinal plants.

Piano Nobile
main floor of a house, which contains the principal rooms, and which is given added emphasis by having a ground floor or basement, and minor floors above. (Piano is Italian for storey) The sala (saloon) is the main room of the piano nobile.

Piazza
an open space, sometimes square but more usually rectangular, surrounded by buildings. Used in Scotland to describe the arcaded walk under 17th century and earlier, buildings.

Picturesque
term defined in the later 18th century as an aesthetic quality in architecture and landscape garden design: in architecture is normally applied to asymmetrically composed buildings of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly in the castellated, Italianate and cottage styles. ...

Piended
hipped roofed.

Pier
strong, solid masonry support.

Pilaster
the flat version of a column, consisting of a slim rectangle projecting from a wall; used also of plain piers or pilasters without classical orders which are more correctly termed pilaster strips.

Pilgrim Trust
grant making foundation founded in 1930. Noted for funding wide range of conservation projects.

Pillar
free-standing member which, unlike a column need not be cylindrical or pretend to belong to an order. A clustered column is one which is made up of, or appears to be made up of a number of smaller pillars.

Pilotis
posts which support a building enabling the ground floor open to be used for parking etc.

Pin rule
a length of timber marked with half-inch gradations which is used by scots slaters to grade their slates.

Pinetum
collection of specimen trees containing only conifers (see Arboretum).

Pinnacle
a small spire, usually pyramidal, often crocketed.

Pinned
description of masonry, usually ashlar, in which small stones or pinnings are set between the larger stones, forming a regular decorative pattern.

Pise
a method of construction thought to originate in France, in which earth, free from organic material, and often containing gravel, is rammed, in a nearly dry state, into formwork. Tends to get hidden under lime wash or render.

Pitched roof
refers to almost any roof built at an angle, the pitch refers to the slope of the roof.

Place bricks
poorer quality bricks, often underfired, used on the inner face of a wall.

Plane table
essentially a portable drawing table used in conjunction with a mounted sighting device and straight edge, which allows accurate setting out drawings to be made on sight. See Measured Survey.

Planning Policy Guidance Notes
these were first introduced in 1988 to clearly set out government policy on planning issues and to offer advice to all relevant bodies. It is important to understand the relationship between all PPG's but specifically, PPG 15 'Planning and the Historic Environment' is most relevant, followed b...

Planning Supervisor
a person appointed under The Construction (Design and Management Regulations) who has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the health and safety aspects of the design and planning phase of a project.

Plant
a general term used to describe the equipment supplied by a contractor when undertaking work. Can range from machinery to scaffolding to hand tools.

Plaster
originally a mixture of clay or lime, sand and water used either internally or externally, with various other ingredients, usually locally available such as animal hair, dung, straw etc to help bind and prevent cracking. Plaster of Paris was the best quality plaster, which involved mixing wa...

Plastic repairs
a term used to describe mortar repairs to stonework, to give a new surface to the stone. The term is somewhat derogatory, and while plastic repair should never be seen as a permanent solution, to be done properly, they require a great deal of skill.

Plate
a general term for any horizontal timber supporting the ends of joist, rafters etc. More specifically, the term is usually taken to refer to a horizontal timber at the bottom of a timber framed wall (the sole or sill plate) or at the top (the wall plate).

Plate glass
made the same way as cylinder glass, it was thicker, and was then ground and polished to produce quality glass. Now, rolled plate glass is a fully mechanised process.

Platt
(platform) broad doorstep, landing on stair, cantilevered stone gallery access to tenement flats. (Illustration)

Pleaching
the interweaving of the branches of trees or shrubs to form a lattice or screen. Popular in Dutch gardening style.

Plinth
a projecting base for a wall or column.

Plinth block
squared blocks on which the architrave sits. See door.

Plot ratio - Site ratio
the ratio of floor space within a building to the area of the site on which it sits. The site ratio is the ratio of the solum or footprint of the building to the area of its site including up to the centre line of surrounding roads.

Plug and feathers
used in splitting stone. A row of holes called pool holes are drilled into which the feathers, two tapering strips of metal, curved in section, are inserted. A spike, which is the plug, is inserted between them and evenly hammered along the row of holes. The feathers are forced apart, and th...

Podium
plinth or pedestal on which whole building is sitting.

Pointing - Dotter - Bed Jointer
the exposed mortar finishing between bricks or stones in a wall, whose primary function is to provide a bed and to prevent water penetrating into the core of the wall. The mortar used should always be softer than the surrounding material. While there are many different profiles, most poin...

Policies
the grounds around a mansion or large house.

Polychrome
of different colours ie polychrome brickwork.

Polygonal
a term often used to describe a building with more than four sides.

Pontil
an iron rod used for gathering glass.

Popples
Small flints are sometimes referred to as 'popples'.

Porch
a projecting, covered entrance, can be open or closed.

Port-cochere
a porch wide enough to admit a vehicle, and give shelter to anyone alighting from it.

Portal
a very impressive, even monumental entrance or porch, to a building, courtyard etc

Portico
a porch in the form of a classical colonnade, usually described in terms of the number of columns, ie Hexastyle (6), Octastyle (8) Decastyle (10) (all from Greek ie deka, ten, stulos a column)

Portland cement
the most common form of cement available today. Grey in colour, it is reliable and achieves a hard set very rapidly. White portland cement which is softer and less hydraulic is also available.

Portland stone
a pale, almost white oolitic limestone, of very good quality and capable of producing large blocks. It was favoured by Wren who used it on St Pauls cathedral.

Potence
rotating ladder providing access to nesting boxes in circular plan dovecote or doocot.

Poulticing
applying pastes, acid, alkaline or neutral to facades. See stone cleaning.

Pozzolana
a volcanic ash originally found near Pozzuoli near Naples which is used as an additive in mortars to achieve an hydraulic set.

Preliminaries
matters which feature at the beginning of a Bill of Quantities, which are relevant to the contractor in terms of his obligations and responsibilities and which will therefore influence his costings. These would include such items as names of clients and consultants, insurance requirements, l...

Preservation
work undertaken only when necessary to ensure the survival of original fabric. No new work or addition is involved. see restoration, conservation

Primary lead
lead which has been mined.

Primary measured survey - (PMS)
an overall framework into which other information can be fitted. See Measured Survey.

Prime cost sum
an amount included in a bill of quantities to cover a particular bit of work or supply of materials to be carried out by a nominated sub-contractor or a supplier. see contract

Principals
the main inclined timbers in a roof.

Programme towns
an English heritage initiative in which some £2 million was allocated to 23 'special need' category of conservation area, ranging from industrial areas to down at heel Georgian townscape. Critised for not targeting need, but for going to those best equipped to pr...

Proscenium
in a theatre, the facing given to a stage, usually implies an architectural treatment of some kind eg the proscenium arch.

Protometer
a meter used for measuring the moisture content of a material.

Provisional sum
a sum included in a bill of quantities for work that is required but cannot be sufficiently designed or specified at the outset of the contract.

Public realm
basically everything that is seen in the urban environment, ie buildings, the spaces between them, and movement through those spaces. Urban design is essentially the manipulation of these three elements.

Pugging
a coarse material such as ash or sand, laid on boards (pugging boards) placed between joists, to provide sound insulation. Breeze, which is a fine clinker obtained from gas works was frequently used. See deafening.

Pulvinated
a term applied to a frieze (pulvinated freize) which has a convex secion ie which bulges outwards

Purbeck marble
a limestone quarried in Dorset, can be polished, hence referred to as marble.

Purlin
a continuous horizontal timber running parallel to the ridge, sometimes referred to as side timbers.. See roof.

Putlogs - Falsework
poles built into a wall and used to support scaffold poles during construction, now more commonly, and wrongly, used to refer to the holes left when the logs are removed. Wooden scaffold was in common usage up until the 1940s when it started to be replaced by tubular steel. It was often r...

Putti
small naked figure used in decorative art. (Illustration)

Putti Illustration
Bagpipe playing putti. A detail from Carbet Castle ceiling, painted by Charles Frechou 1871.

PVC
(Poly vinylchloride) is manufactured in the form of a white powder. Before it is fabricated, various additives such as stabilisers and plasticisers are introduced. Unplasticised PVC - the UPVC of so many replacement windows, is hard and strong, and has numerous uses in the construction indus...

Quarries
small panes of glass, usually diamond shaped, held in lead strips. The diamond shape had the advantage of using virtually all of the glass in the sheet, and is more robust than square or rectangular panes which set up horizontal lines of weakness which leads to bulging. A quarry tile is ...

Quarry sap
the moisture found in most newly quarried stone which quickly dries out forming the case hardening.

Queen post
a pair of vertical timbers rising from a tie beam to support purlins. See roof.

Quicklime
CaO, calcium oxide, a caustic material made from limestone which has been burned to drive off the carbon dioxide, remains very unstable until slaked. See lime.

Quincunces
ancient, traditional arrangement of trees to form an 'X'. Now most likely to be found in the arrangement of fruit trees. Like the pattern of five on a dice, from the latin quinque, five.

Quirk
a V-shaped rounded groove, resembling an open book , cut into timber, or defined in plaster, as decoration.