The San Francisco bay area has a corner problem. Many buildings, especially houses, in the bay area have tightly bloated protrusions bulging from their corners. . . .
By mannerism I mean this:
Contradictions, exaggerations, and counter-intuitions in architectural form resulting from intentional manipulations to the “rules” of established types, techniques, typological traits, or representational conventions.
By mannerisms (plural) I mean roughly this:
A collection of architectural form-types that can be sub-categorized by their geometric traits, formal qualities, construction techniques, and materiality found within a particular context or situation.
There are certain things in architecture that endear themselves to architects as well as broader cultures. These, I claim, are our Darlings; a particular breed of architectural types characterized by deeply rooted architectural histories that are taken up by each successive generation of architects, and that are often the character-defining features of more programmatically obligated typologies. Domes, columns, vaults, arches, gable roofs, bell towers, dormer windows, bay windows, chimneys, and turrets are just a few of these so called Darlings.
In fact, many of these “Darlings” are deemed culturally and politically valuable to the extent that they are written into planning, zoning, and preservation codes…political documents that govern the literal aesthetics of buildings. (See: San Francisco Planning Code Article 10; Preservation of Historic Architectural & Aesthetic Landmarks, Section 6 for example)
Mind Your Mannerisms: Some Turrets
The San Francisco bay area has a corner problem. Many buildings, especially houses, in the bay area have tightly bloated protrusions bulging from their corners. These unexpectedly strange corners, otherwise known as the Victorian turret, have specific architectural characteristics and qualities that are tied to regional, cultural, and political associations. Mind Your Mannerisms speculates on alternative expressions for the Victorian turret typology with four primary considerations in mind: the relationship between gable roof and turret, the architectural flare detail, shingle cladding patterns, and turret as figure.
1. Roof to Turret Relationship
The relationship between the roof and the turret is a key circumstance in evaluating formal, spatial, and compositional aspects of a building with a turret. The turret’s alignment or offset to the roof and front façade is central to the outward address of the building and its interior configuration.
2. The Flare Detail
The architectural flare detail is a familiar detail for the Victorian turret. A typical flare detail bends the exterior surface of a wall gently outward and is often used to differentiate one floor from the one below. Always taut and crisp-edged, the flare detail is susceptible to other surface and material expressions, such as shifting from crisp and tight to supple and oddly soft.
3. Shingle Cladding Patterns
Shingle cladding patterns on Victorian forms are a well-known device for introducing ornamentation over what is otherwise a collection of small interior rooms contained within a bulky mass. The shingled turret shown has six shingle profile types and three types of wood and finish in an 8 course, stepped repeating pattern with some that curl, widen, shrink, or are perfectly normal.
4. Turret as Figure
The turret is a confusing form. Is it added to the building? Is the building conceptualized and constructed around this corner form? Is the turret a compound figure in conjunction with the building, or is it a differentiated part? It can be hard to tell because often the turret is oddly conjoined with the building yet also has its own clear distinctive parts; conical or domical top, articulated cylindrical body, tapered or flat-cut bottom. While the top portion may well be the more expressive moment of a turret, it is the bottom which enables reading the turret as an independent, figural part or as a compound mass conditioned by the building itself.
Endemic team: Sofia Anastasi, Brian McKinney, Mitchell Price, Sarah Herlugson, Trenton Jewett, Tyler Smith, & Taylor Metcalf.