It’s taken me a few days to collect my thoughts and ideas on how to share the history and photographs I took on the second leg of the trip in Austria. After spending two full days in Vienna, I hopped on a train and headed to Hallstatt, which is located in the Salzkammergut region of the Eastern Alps!
The next post I’ll go into more detail about the train traveling from Vienna, arriving in Hallstatt, and some of the attractions in the picturesque village. This post I just wanted to use, as a way to broaden everyone’s architectural terminology knowledge and give a glimpse of what I saw in Hallstatt!
So today is brought to you by the letter “J,” as in “jerkinhead roof.”
So you’re probably thinking: “WTF is a jerkinhead roof”…. “This sounds made up!”…. “Who comes up with these things!?!?!?!”
It’s not a made up term.
It seems to have been around for a long time though the exact origins of the roof style are not clear. In 1902, the definition for the roof went like this, “A ridge roof of which the ridge is shorter than the eaves, having with a single slope from the wall of the clear story outwards.”i Let’s be honest, I have no idea what that actually means. It’s confusing. My trusty, Guide to Vermont Architecture, gives the following, clearer definition, “A gable roof in which the gable peaks are clipped off and inclined backward.”ii That makes a little more sense.
Here’s a photo that helps show what we’re talking about:
This type of roof is also occasionally called, “half-hipped” and “clipped gable” or even “jerkin-head roof.”
As already mentioned, there seems to be no clear indication on where this type of roof originated from. The one source I found that gave some idea of the roof’s origins was Early American Architecture: From the First Colonial Settlements to the National Period written in 1952 by Hugh Morrison. Morrison makes the suggestion that the style, during the medieval period, may have helped protect the gable-ends of walls that were built of wattle and daub.iii The roof style can be seen in many European countries such as England, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, and obviously Austria. The roof is typical in timber-framed buildings and historically would have been seen on thatch-roofed houses.
Since I’m still focusing on my trip to Austria, I shared a lot of images of jerkinhead roofs from Hallstatt. In my adventures around Northern New York, I don’t recall seeing these types of roofs but I know I now will keep a lookout for them! Do you have any examples in your neighborhood, if you do, share your examples in the comment section below!
Thanks for reading 🙂
i A Dictionary of Architecture and Building: Biographical, Historical, and Descriptive, Russell Sturgis, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902), 359-360. https://books.google.com/books?id=J58aAAAAYAAJ&num=5
ii The Historical Architecture of Vermont: Guide to Vermont Architecture, Curtis B. Johnson, editor and Elsa Gilbertson, Prinicpal Author, (Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1996), 26.
iii Early American Architecture: From the First Colonial Settlements to the National Period, Hugh Morrison (New York: Dover Publications, 1987), 143. https://books.google.com/books?id=Dk1qhPyIPfQC&pg=PA625&dq=early+american+architecture&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiEyf28g-XQAhXG6iYKHezRDFMQ6AEIJzAC#v=onepage&q&f=false
3 thoughts on “What is this Jargon in Austria!?!?! Hallstatt Edition”
It is awesome that those are called Jerkinhead roofs…. I would never have guessed!
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This is the quirkiest building term I learned about while studying at the University of Vermont. Now you can share that word with people! Thanks for reading 🙂
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Courtney, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Hallstatt is charmingly beautiful and I’ve always dreamt of visiting.
My wife and I are building a home in Utah with jerkinhead gables. I know that historically, jerkinhead gables were a way to reduce wind resistance on the gables. In modern times, they’re used for aesthetic reasons, including the fact that that they’re less imposing than open gables and also reminiscent of historic European architecture.
In your experience, did you ever come across any buildings which feature jerkinhead gables that had the jerkinhead gables on just one side (maybe the windy side)? I ask because we are considering doing open gables in the back of the house, maybe with some decorative elements.
While I favor continuity in design, I also respect historical trends. Curious if you have any insight on this.