Thursday, August 11, 2022


 Carrying on work started in UK a couple of weeks ago. The bigger picture is a study of terraced house typologies, staple of the industrial revolution in England and the massive surge of urbanisation that came with it.

I’m taking a modular approach to doors and windows like I usually do. Nested components two or three levels deep that can be swapped out for maximum economy of effort.

The opening and frame are separate families that can be swapped out, mixed and match with other variations. In this case the opening has a segmental arch but the same component would work with a flat stone lintel, for example.

Similarly the sill can be swapped out, and the sash components.

The opening itself starts as two void sweeps, based on inner and outer profiles. Rebates are formed to house the sash box, plus a dropped sill.

But the sill needs to push back under the wooden frame and project at the ends, so that’s another void sweep using the rectangular profile. The sill family is a solid extrusion with a shallow void sweep along the front edge, stopping short at the ends.

We need two versions of the sash. One divided simply down the middle, the other featuring a more stylish arrangement. Two narrow side panels with a large middle pane. Two visibility parameters do the trick.

It will take a couple more iterations to fine tune this and achieve the level of control we will need. The arch will be a nested item, like the sill. Two different colours of brick make it an interesting challenge.

The sash boxes are hollow now (for the cast iron weights) but they need to be deeper. I’m judging all the measurements from memory and common sense. I need to look up my study from some years ago. There are things like brass pulley wheels that I could use.

I’ve added internal architraves and sill. Such a simple robust technology the sash window. Born in the Dutch / English world of commerce and industry that was the 17th century. Too little credit is given to the role of building trade innovations of that era in helping to enable the industrial revolution a century later.



The coal burning fireplaces of London drove the growth of the coal mining sector whose capacity would be vital later to supply the energy for steam powered cotton mills.

Rapid urbanisation was vital for rolling out factory production across sector after sector. Sliding sash window technology is based on standard sections, run off in timber mills across the country and available off the shelf.

Mouldings, fittings and decorative flourishes varied. It’s easy to imagine a distributed network of artisans and suppliers trying out different solutions as the technology evolved over decades by a kind of natural selection.




Saturday, August 6, 2022


 This is a record of Posts made to LinkedIn during my ”wedding-voyages” this summer.


Four material textures from yesterday’s walk. Somewhat irregular brickwork in English Bond. Plain clay roof tiling. Flint cobble walling, and chequer board walling in flint and ashlar.

Would be fun to convert these into Revit materials perhaps.


Six windows from St Michael’s Church, Basingstoke. Might have a go at these in Revit. Definitely won’t be going for much parametric behaviour. Achieving an acceptable version of the geometry will be challenging enough without going down that Rabbit hole 🤔


Two carved stone Ionic Capitals from Oakley Hall where we had lunch. A plaster Corinthian from the Basingstoke registry office where my son was married today. This one much more conventional than the one I posted earlier from the Vyne. The timber framed gable end is also from the registry office building, which has clearly evolved over the years / centuries. So much history in this part of the world.


Visited “The Vyne” near Basingstoke for the second time yesterday. Interesting take on the Corinthian Order in the entrance portico added by John Webb in 1654. No volutes, just Acanthus leaves at the corners with a single row below, and capped by a perfectly square moulding instead of the sweeping curves more often seen.


Church Cottage opposite St Michael's Church, Basingstoke. It has a rich and varied history stretching back at least 500 years, grade II listed. Could do with some loving care, not least to the ground floor windows.

Brick infill to the timber frame of different ages and bonds: stretcher, English, herringbone. Peeping through the windows at the back, the former tithe barn is still in use for evening classes and clubs.





Sunday, July 31, 2022



VILLEIN = Low born rustic : peasant, farmer, yokel. I've been reading a book about feudalism: a time when simple folk looked for protection in the face of marauding bands by swearing allegiance to a lord. Let's hope that current instabilities don't drag us back in that direction 


I'm just back from two weeks in the UK. So exciting to travel again after all the pandemic nonsense. Not that a novel respiratory virus is a small thing. I am on the edge of the vulnerable age group and I did my best to behave responsibly in terms of social distancing and vaccination. But I was never in favour of compulsion or shaming and the politicisation on "both sides" was sad to see. 


My biggest worry now is the knock-on effect of the lock downs. We in the "developed world" are feeling the pinch, but that is nothing to what the weaker economies have been going through. I have personal knowledge of young people in Africa whose small businesses were ruined by lock downs and I think we will be very lucky to avoid mass starvation in several countries this winter. Let's hope I am wrong. 


While in the UK I stayed in a terraced house whose age was in question. The row was clearly Edwardian, but for some reason the last two houses were thought to be much younger. I love this kind of puzzle and have long admired the terraced housing that accompanied that extraordinary burst of human flourishing we call the industrial revolution. 


Naturally I decided to build a Revit model, taking what I deduce to be the original “as built” as my starting point. Just one quick session, so there’s a long way to go, but it’s always a useful way to ask some deeper questions about how a building fits together.

There are segmental arch windows and a half round arch at the front entrance. So for my second Revit session I decided to develop a better, modular approach to arched door and window families.

Different kinds of arches require different approaches to parametric control of the arc segments. Plus there will often be need for parallel curves for frames and panels, rebates etc.

I decided to set up profile families to develop the necessary constraints and formulas for each type. These can be used to create void sweeps that cut wall openings, whether simple or rebated, and the same formulas used for nested frames and panels / sashes.

Not even halfway there yet, but I’m happy to have made a start. The terrace house typology utilised by hundreds of builders across the UK is a beautiful example of evolutionary radiation in the #waywebuild. Dozens of species and subspecies, hundreds of point mutations. Hope I can take this exploration a lot further.


The Gothic arches are quite tricky, especially when they head in the Tudor direction. Maybe I will go a bit further with the segmental and half round next so as to progress that house type further. So many different studies I could be doing, but took me a couple of days to recover from the travel to be honest. Biological clock ticking away.