Tak­ing cen­tre stage in Ti­maru’s CBD

The Timaru Herald - - COMMENT&OPINION - DAVID MCBRIDE

San Fran­cisco has its fa­mous Painted Ladies and Christchurch has New Re­gent Street but for Ti­maru­vians this col­lec­tion of dec­o­rated build­ings is much closer to home – right in the cen­tre of the CBD in fact.

While the orig­i­nal New Re­gent Street was con­ceived as an at­trac­tion in a sin­gle swoop, the build­ings pic­tured here have hap­pily formed a friend­ship over a pe­riod of time.

In ad­di­tion to the bright colours on dis­play, there are many dec­o­ra­tive touches that come from the ar­chi­tect’s kit rather than the paint shop.

The build­ing on the left has a prom­i­nent car­touche - a framed panel lo­cated top cen­tre that can be found on sev­eral Ti­maru build­ings from late Vic­to­rian times.

This one in­cludes swags — dec­o­ra­tive work in plas­ter giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of draped fab­ric.

A car­touche is fre­quently used to dec­o­rate the para­pet of a com­mer­cial build­ing – the top sec­tion of a wall that con­tin­ues up­wards past the roofline. Para­pets have al­ways been re­garded as earth­quake prone, and this was con­firmed in the se­vere Christchurch shak­ing. The build­ings are in­ten­sively dec­o­rated. All open­ings are crowned by dis­tinc­tive key­stones, and highly worked brack­ets and cor­bels pop out ev­ery­where.

Th­ese are ma­sonry projections which nor­mally might sup­port a struc­tural item such as a roof beam or a truss. Here their func­tion is to sim­ply pro­mote even more dec­o­ra­tion above.

The third build­ing along has a low para­pet, ex­pos­ing the mansard roof be­hind – a roof shape that has a very steep pitch at the sides, al­most as steep as the wall be­low. This style is named af­ter 17th cen­tury French ar­chi­tect Fran­cois Mansart.

Many build­ings in Paris are built to this pro­file, in ef­fect cre­at­ing an­other storey within the roof space.

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