Monday, January 5, 2015

Dutch gables: examples from Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam is famous for its streetscapes with tall narrow houses with decorative facades. Although all decorative gable ends are often characterised as Dutch gables only the so-called Spout, Neck and Clock gables fall into this category. These types of decorative facades were brought to Amsterdam by merchants, artisans and craftsmen after the fall of Antwerp in 1585. So the term Dutch applies to the Low Countries as a whole and not to the present-day Netherlands. Sometimes the term Flemish gable is also used for the Tuitgevel (Spout gable), Halsgevel (Neck gable) and Klokgevel (Clock gable). Prior to the influx from the southern Netherlands the small city of Amsterdam was built up with wooden buildings with planked facades that are typical for the area. The ubiquitous Stepped gable isn't a type of Dutch gable!

The three types of Dutch gables illustrated with examples from Amsterdam. On the left an example of a Clock gable with a bell-shaped raised gable end in brick topped by a pediment with a wavy crest and similarly crested shoulder sets in stone. In the middle a Neck gable with the central elongated facade in brick topped by a rounded pediment and flanked by so-called clawed inserts with volutes. On the right the Spout gable in its most basic form with simple shoulders on each side of the triangular gable end and crowned by a stone-capped projection (or spout). Note that all historic city houses in Amsterdam -and indeed most other water cities in Holland- have a hoist beam in the gable top that was used for lifting furniture and stock wares to the floors and the loft respectively.

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