Archive - 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
ARCHITECTURAL GEOMETRY, A Rare Geometrical Record from Rural Devon, by Laurie Smith
Laurie Smith has written a new book: ARCHITECTURAL GEOMETRY A Rare Geometrical Record from Rural Devon. Here's the cover.
The book is about the many daisy wheels and other geometry found on the walls of a Devon threshing barn.
The barn, shown here, is owned by Richard Westcott, editor of The Three Hares, a Curiosity Worth Regarding. The image is #3, page 4.
Richard Westcott, Laurie Smith, and their friend, the photographer and film maker Chris Chapman, examined and recorded the geometry on the barn’s walls - over 169 separate geometric shapes.
This photograph is of a "divider scribed daisy wheel from the wall's inner surface."
The image is #4; the quote is from page 4.
They researched the barn’s history, took measured drawings and photographs, and explored the geometry.
Then Laurie wrote this book.
Like all of Laurie’s books it has beautiful diagrams. Clear descriptions accompanying the diagrams explain how the daisy wheels still visible on its walls governed the siting, layout, and frame of the barn.
Image 39, page 26
This is 1of 5 of Laurie's illustrations showing the development of the barn section.
He includes examples of similar geometries give context and nuance.
Here is one of 4 daisy wheel drawings for the geometry of the Barley Barn, Cressing Temple, Essex, UK
Image 27, page 19.
Along the way Laurie explains terms and forms which we rarely use today, including the use of a perch, pole and rod as measuring devices.
He introduces the reader to the Trivium, the Quadrivium, and Whirling Squares.
Part of Image 63, page 50
He writes thoughtfully - and with humor - about apotropaic symbols.
At the end of the book Laurie considers how all of that geometry - 169 separate images - came to be scribed on the interior walls of a rural threshing barn. He suggests a 'geometry school'. I agree with his theory: I have also found incomplete geometries drawn on plaster walls here in the States.
His descriptions encourage the reader to examine the image, think about what he's written, look again, and understand the geometry.
Here is what he says about this double daisy wheel:
"The image shows the geometrical precision of the divider-scribing, the scars of the divider pin at the twelve points around the primary circle and the compound damage caused at the symbol's axis by the passing of twenty four arcs."
Image and quote, page 59
The book's copyright page includes this introduction:
"Laurie Smith is an independent early-building design researcher, specializing in geometric design systems. Because the medieval educational curriculum included geometry he uses geometric analysis to excavate and recover the design systems of the past, a process he thinks of as design archaeology. He lectures, writes, runs practical workshops and publishes educational articles on geometrical design that are available from his website."
I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in historic construction and geometry. Copies can be purchased from Laurie Smith in the UK or from me ($20.00 postage paid) in the USA.
*All the photographs: the barn, the hand and the daisy wheel, and the 12 pointed daisy wheel in the barn shown here are by Chris Chapman, copied by me from the book for the purpose of this review.
The geometry is by Laurie Smith, also copied with his permission.