April 30, 2012

Parisian Houses in 1610

An engraving showing a street in Paris in 1610. The subject is the assassination of Henri IV, king of France. Photo from

Are you surprised to see the Dutch influence on these houses in Paris?

The old houses such as these were all destroyed to make way for new buildings, part of the plans to create the most beautiful city in the world. Of course it was not done all in one fell swoop. A couple of Napoleons, war, fire and of course decay all played a part. Oh well and who is to say it was not well worth the results? It is certainly a more liveable and elegant city compared to having winding streets of crumbling buildings.

The Dutch style was also an influence on the brick houses of Elizabethan England in the same historic period.

Elizabethan Gatehouse Mockup

Front of house

It feels good to have finally settled on what I wanted to make for my birdhouse project. A bit of research was done, then next step was making the basic CAD model for the massing of the Elizabethan birdhouse and now I have the cardboard mockup almost finished.

Back of house

The cardboard model turned out very close to my vision. But looking at it I decided I will add a half inch to the height of the second story and trim a half an inch off the lower edge of twin dormers on the front. Those kind of subtle changes are why I take the time to mockup the project in cardboard, I can see these subtle things more clearly. It will be very easy to make those two changes in my CAD model. In the image below you can see where I am querying the CAD model for some of the dimensions I needed for cutting the cardboard parts.

Next I will try adding two fireplace chimneys to the roof of the cardboard model. Chimneys are a lot of work to make and they are also an issue in terms of holding up to weathering outdoors. Therefore I will have to decide if I feel they are absolutely essential or not. They are a significant design feature on Elizabethan buildings so I must try them to see if they contribute to the overall impact.

After that chimney decision is made I will start putting all the details into the CAD model, the doors, windows, trims, brackets, timbers, etc. This birdhouse is really going to be loaded with lots of architectural details and carvings.
Cutting board and tools

There will be two birdhouse boxes built into the first floor. This piece is going to be sent to Texas so I will be sure to add lots of insulation and cross ventilation so the bird boxes don't turn into ovens in the hot sun. A historic form of early settler's house in Texas is called a "Dog Trot Cabin". It is basically two cabins joined with an open roofed breezeway between them. That design feature cools the building. If you look at this Elizabethan Gatehouse design you will see that I am going to take advantage of the same kind of cooling feature for my feathered friends.

The second floor and attic dormers will have glass windows in them. Inside the structure I will add low voltage LED lighting to shine out them at night. So not only is this piece going to function as a birdhouse, it is also a lamp and of course first and foremost it is an outdoor sculpture.

It could also be a dollhouse as I have designed it in 1:12 scale but than was not what was requested and it would take a lot more time too.