‘Except where herein otherwise directed': building with legal documents in early nineteenth-century England
|Published in:||arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, September 2012, n. 3, v. 16|
To show every minute portion of a building by drawing is next to impossible, and would be more laborious than useful, and therefore description in writing is resorted to, by which much labour is saved, and the intentions of the architect more readily conveyed to the mind of the operative.
This paper investigates the changes in architectural practice following the introduction of contracting in gross for the execution of building work in early nineteenth-century England. This particular new form referred to two different agreements, either contracting for a whole undertaking by a single builder who agreed to erect the whole of an edifice at a predetermined price and time, or contracting for the work of a specific trade only.
The changes in contracting the building work are understood as changes in building practice, whose material product would be the building. In a similar manner the building contracts are considered as the material products of the architectural practice, including not only the working drawings, but also the legal obligations and building specifications. This paper investigates the contract documents that were to be produced in the architectural office in order to build on site as evidence for a response of architectural practice to the changes in building practice. It traces this process in the adaptation of the writings of the legal documents to contracting in gross by comparing the specifications of John Soane's building contract for Tendring Hall of 1784 with the instructions and model specifications of the early nineteenth-century handbooks and practical guides.
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