12 March 2022
Went to Grimwith Reservoir, near Hebden. Saw the monastic barn (which was re-built in the 80’s). The roof is of heather thatch - locally known as lin. These roofs are memory banks. Without this roof, places like this would decay and their words with them, taproots to the diversity of our heritage, words shaped by Viking mouths. Words that hold within their syntax hooks that keep us rooted. The roof holds all that.
I notice the ridge finial detail - it curves downwards and cups the gable - it reminds me of Sir Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral. The covered entrance at Coventry echoes the protective curve of the barn finial. It has rooted within its geometry a caring curve of protection - like a hand shading the eyes of a newborn. At Coventry the roof’s strength is not in its waterproof capabilities, but in a powerful sense of healing - bridging the break between the bombed out old cathedral and the hope encompassed in the new. The best new architecture is rooted in the old.
I’m reminded of some words by Alain de Botton: “So refined is our skill at detecting parallels to human beings in forms, textures and colours that we can interpret a character from the humblest shape. A line is eloquent enough. A straight example will signal someone stable and dull, a wavy one will appear foppish and calm, a jagged one angry and confused.” Architecture of Happiness
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