Architecture in Shakespeare’s Time

October 13, 2015Architecture

A Blast from the Architectural Past Meadowlark is exploring the world! I recently returned from a trip to the United Kingdom, where the landscapes and wide architectural styles thoroughly satisfied both the wanderer and the architecture nerd in me.  London in particular boasts beautiful Classical Revival structures, Georgian homes, and the Tate Modern Museum. Of all these, my favorite was the goat-haired, thatched roof Shakespeare’s Globe, a 20th century reconstruction of the 17th century original. Though I was taken aback by the contrast in structure, it did bring a unique meaning to “going all natural,” and I was quickly engrossed by its unique details. Circular Shape Unlike most of our theaters today, the Globe’s circular shape seats some members of the audience to the side of or even behind the actors. The original 17th century and current players use the circular shape to bring the audience into the story. In the Globe, the audience is not a passive onlooker, but plays the role of an active townsperson, a lead player’s confidant, or some other role. shakesglobe   Prominent Wood Framing Thick English oak frames the shell and supports the three levels of the Globe. Promwoodframing   Joinery No nails or screws are used. Mortise and tenon joinery hold the entire structure together. The peg holes in each piece are slightly offset from one another before the peg is inserted. When the peg’s inserted, the holes are forced to align, tightening the joint. It’s said the Globe could be turned upside down and retain its structure because of these joints. jointery   Thatched Roof While the sprinkler system (along its ridge) was not part of the original structure, using a thatched roof made of water reeds was! Fun fact: Shakespeare’s Globe is also the only thatched roof in London. thatchedroof   Plaster Walls The original walls of the Globe’s outer shell used a plaster mixture including burnt chalk and goat’s hair, covered with a white lime wash. Today’s version preserves this unique recipe, though there may be some horse hair thrown in. plasterwalls   -By Katie MacGillivray

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