balconette (1), a small decorative balcony fixed to a window–cill for the purpose of holding flower pots.
balconette (2), a false balcony or protective railing mounted in front of inward–opening French doors at high level.
balcony, a platform projecting from a wall, enclosed by a railing or balustrade, cantilevered out or supported by columns or brackets [Italian: balcone, balcony].
When introduced into Britain the pronunciation was as the Italian, with the stress on the second syllable. By the eighteenth century this had changed by common usage to the first syllable, a circumstance that the poet Samuel Rogers (1763–1855) said ‘made him feel sick’).
baluster, a small shaped pillar supporting a coping or rail [Latin: balaustium, the wild pomegranate, from the supposed resemblance of the baluster to the double–curving calyx–tube of this flower].
A balustrade is commonly an open row of balusters forming the protective edge of a balcony or a change of level. If it occurs in front of a solid apron panel below a window, in effect masquerading as a balcony, it becomes a ‘blind’ balustrade. See also balustraded window.
basket–handle arch, an impure arch form, the soffit of which consists of two quarter–circles joined by a straight or almost straight central section.
bat’s–wing (2), a solid panel in the form of a fluted semi–circular fan pattern, over a late eighteenth century window.
In this case over a Serliana, Palladian window, or Venetian window.
bay–window, a projecting ground floor window or windows, which may rise through several storeys.
When the returns are angled instead of rectangular it described as a canted bay. When curved it is a bow–window, and when at high level it is an oriel window; this may also encompass several storeys.
bead, bead–mould, a small convex moulding.
Confusingly, in its semicircular form sometimes denoted by the word astragal. It may also occur as a recessed bead, or on a corner as a three–quarter external angle or double–quirked bead.
billet moulding, a decorative enrichment consisting of cylindrical, rectangular or prismatic shapes arranged in equal short lengths along an architectural feature [Old French; bille, trunk of a tree + diminutive –ette = a small piece of wood].
Commonly there will be two rows of the same or similar billets alongside each other, but disposed alternately.
biscuit window, a window or opening with a semicircular head and ‘cill’, i.e. biscuit–shaped.
You won’t see this definition in many dictionaries, nor will you find many examples of the type. The example shown is a recently restored finestra a biscotto from the cathedral of the Northern Italian town, Crema. The pattern around the outer band is thought by some to contain an ‘argotic code’ (from the word ‘argot’, thieves’ slang), a series of secret symbols that can be read and recognised by the initiated, the Knights Templars being the favourites, as usual. Other examples exist without any such decoration or exotic connections.
blind, a device for reducing the amount of light entering an opening, usually fabric or similar material, suspended on a roller or stretched on a frame, either outside or inside a building; occasionally in the form of slats of translucent or solid material.
The Italian term is tenda da sole, literally a ‘sun curtain’. The word tenda in this context can mean a curtain, a blind, or a tent, being related to tendere, to stretch (hidden in our word ‘tension’). See also Venetian blind.
blind box, an enclosure, commonly for an external roller blind or retractable cloth blind, and sometimes embellished with sculpted edges or other decoration.
blind–window, an opening that has been blocked up in some way, or a window that has been so created in order to fulfil the designer’s aesthetic ambition or to serve a practical need.
Designed by Dr Adam Anderson in order to supply a piped water supply to houses in Perth, Scotland, this cast iron water tank has been embellished with classical details, also in cast iron. It was constructed in 1830–32 by the Dundee Foundry. (Photo: Thelma Wrightson). For more general information on blind windows see Notes 4, 5 and 6.
bolection moulding, a moulding with a sinuously curved cross–section, framing an opening or masking joints in panelling [Oxford English Dictionary: ‘of uncertain form and unknown origin’].
bottle–glass, small, round panes of spun glass held in a framework of lead cames, supported by saddle bars.
bow–window, a projecting window that is curved on plan; usually single storey, it may exist in multi–storey form, or as an oriel window.
box–sash, the name given to a type of window with glazed frames (sashes) that can be easily raised and lowered by means of counter–balance weights concealed in a wooden box forming the jambs of the window. (Sash and case in Scotland).
If both sashes can move it is known as a double–hung sash, if only one (usually the lower) it is referred to as single–hung. Windows with three moving sashes vertically mounted in one frame also occur, especially where access to a garden or balcony is required.
brise–soleil, an external shading device, usually in the form of horizontal or vertical fins or louvres, employed for the purpose of reducing heat gain through large windows. [French: briser, to break; soleil, sun].
The fins may be fixed or variable, in which case they behave like a large Venetian blind [French: briser, to break; soleil, sun]. See also helioscene.
broad glass, manufactured by blowing a long molten glass cylinder, which was then cut along its length and opened out to form a wide flat sheet.
broken–base pediment, a pediment in which there is a gap in the lower member accommodating a feature such as a fanlight.
Also known as open–bed pediment. See also pediment, segmental pediment, scrolled pediment. Confusingly, dictionaries seem unable to agree on a fixed definition, using ‘open’ and ‘broken’ interchangeably for the same thing.
bull’s–eye glass, the discarded centre of a spun disc of crown glass.
Traditionally employed in circumstances where neither beauty nor visibility were held to be at a premium.