Half Timbered Houses

By wasatch | Jul 9, 2020



My favorite sights in the EU are street walking to see the architecture, half timbered buildings, especially houses, and Baroque churches and palaces. To understand and fully appreciate half timbered buildings, we have to start a 1, 000 years before they emerged with the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, Classical architecture. The Parthenon is the classic classic-- a rectangular building, preferable with the dimensions of the Golden Rectangle (5X3 if I recall correctly and I am not going to look it up), columns, preferable Doric or Ionic, made of stone (Greece) or brick, sometimes covered with stone (marble), many Roman buildings. Symmetry was a key feature of the Classical Style especially post fall of Rome. eventually there was a revolt against the Classical style. At first, affecting mostly churches (Renascence and Gothic), but around 1500 CE, the revolt produced half timbered buildings. The most authentic half timbered buildings are not symmetrical. We have stayed in some half timbered hotel rooms that had no square corners and the ceiling was not parallel to the floor. Walking down the hall was like being on pitching ship in rough seas.

Classical structures were built of stone and sometimes brick, so the half timbered revolt featured exposed wood. American houses today are built with a hidden wood frame. You can't look at one and know its built of wood. In keeping with the post half timbered buildings return to the classical style, your hidden wood framed house may be surfaced with a return to ancient Greece and Rome, an exterior of stone or brick. So, to make it obvious, half timbered buildings featured exposed wood on both the exterior and interior (fake or real wood ceiling beams in the interior rooms, and what is better seen in photos rather than trying to explain in words, but its important to note that the exposed interior wood in half timbered buildings is both decorative and structural. The spaces between the exposed wood timbers is filled in with brick and then the brick is plastered over and painted, mostly in whine, but in some regions, most notably Alsace in France, in glorious pastel colors.

Following the initial half timbered asymmetric revolution, later builders synthesized half timbered with Classical symmetry. Thus, while an authentic half timbered house would have 5 windows on the ground floor, 3 on the second floor and one, not center on the top floor, The classical styled half timbered buildings would put 2 on each side of the door, 4 Monte second floor centered above the first floor windows, and two an the top floor centered over the second floor center two.

Asymetric.  Bernkastle, Ger.

Asymetric. Bernkastle, Ger.

Even today, exterior half timbered lives on in Tudor style houses and is also found in part of the exterior of the Winchester Mystery House.

Some Half Timbered Favorites

  • Town square, Chester, England. Its a 19th C fake, but it works
  • The Mermaid Inn, Rye, England. A gem, and Queen Elizabeth I spent a night here
  • Alsace, France
  • Bernkastle, Germany
  • The iconic photo of Rothenberg o. do. T. shows a half timbered house at the meeting point of a Y shaped road intersection
  • Along The German Romantic Road

Half-timbering Europe Architecture

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Written by wasatch
1st international trip: 1965. ~57 EU vacations. Visited 6 continets. Extensive USA travel. You can email me at kb1942@yahoo.com

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