Dado, Staple Inn Buildings (1901)

From Wikipedia:

“This area is given a decorative treatment different from that for the upper part of the wall; for example panelling, wainscoting or lincrusta. The purpose of the dado treatment to a wall is both aesthetic and functional. Historically, the panelling below the dado rail was installed to cover the lower part of the wall which was subject to stains associated with rising damp; additionally it provided protection from furniture and passing traffic. The dado rail itself is sometimes referred to misleadingly as a chair rail, though its function is principally aesthetic and not to protect the wall from chair backs.

The name was first used in English as an architectural term for the part of a pedestal between the base and the cornice. As with many other architectural terms, the word is Italian in origin. The dado in a pedestal is roughly cubical in shape, and the word in Italian means “dice” or “cube” (ultimately Latin datum, meaning “something given”, hence also a die for casting lots). By extension, the dado becomes the lower part of a wall when the pedestal is treated as being continuous along the wall, with the cornice becoming the dado rail.”

“In 1901 (Alfred) Waterhouse designed Staple Inn Buildings on High Holborn, for the Prudential, nearly opposite Holborn Bars, and built as extra chambers for the Company. Waterhouse wanted to use buff terracotta as more sympathetic to Staple Inn next door, but the Company insisted that he stick with the house style of red brick and terracotta. The roof is of slate. It is five floors high, plus rooms in the attic. Built by Holland & Hannen at a cost of £29,305.

After Waterhouse announced his retirement, the board of the Prudential wrote to Paul Waterhouse to state “their regret at the proposed severance of his father’s connection with the Company, and to express their appreciation and admiration of Mr. Waterhouse as an architect and the personal esteem in which they held him during an association extending over many years”.”

“Waterhouse is well known for his use of terracotta and faience as a building material, one of the driving factors being its resistance to air pollution, an increasing problem as the industrial age advanced. He relied on Gibbs and Canning Limited to supply the terracotta for the Natural History Museum, who he worked with to improve the quality of the material. He used Gibbs and Canning for Holborn Bars, though for the regional Prudential buildings terracotta from Ruabon was used. Waterhouse liked terracotta because of its versatility giving him control over the texture of his buildings. Waterhouse had this to say about irregularity in colouring found in terracotta:


the fire would at once give us those beautiful tints of which we might avail ourselves if we chose boldly to use them


He used terracotta in buildings of all styles from the Romanesque of the Natural History Museum, the Early English Gothic at Girton College, or the Perpendicular Gothic at St Paul’s School Hammersmith, even neoclassical at the Parrot House Eaton Hall. When Burmantofts Pottery developed their process to produce faience in 1879 Waterhouse started using it for his interiors. Most notably at The Victoria Building, University of Liverpool; the Chapel, Royal Liverpool Infirmary; Yorkshire College; the National Liberal Club and the final phase of Holborn Bars. He especially liked to clad columns in faience, but walls and fireplaces as well. He also made much use of glazed tiles and terracotta within buildings, for example in the corridors at Manchester Town Hall.”

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