Nope, that wasn’t a typo in the title- guitare, more often spelled guitarde, is a French word meaning ‘alcove’, and is a special carpentry term you won’t find readily in a French dictionary. Trust me, I’ve looked at a few. If you do an image search for guitare you will find images of, guess what?: guitars. Even when looking for guitarde, lots of Fenders, etc., show up in the search results. Well, you might come across one or two guitardes which are not strung or played.
Most of the classic French 18th/19th century carpentry drawing books show an example or three of guitardes – they often associate to prow roofs on dormers, typically are found over the main entrance to a building, and are sometimes seen under balconies as well. I’ve got a few photos to share, just to give you an idea. You gotta hand it to the French traditional carpentry tradition – fascinating!
This first set of photos are by Compagnon Jonathon Lahaye.
The modern versions are often built with laminated material, with the older examples cut and joined from solid stock:
These next pictures associate to the Compannage Museum. A maquette with an imperiale roof over the guitarde:
Multiple guitardes form an intriguing vaulting:
The above example looks like a development from a structure featured in Delataille’s 19th century layout books:
And three – not really a guitarde, but neat all the same:
They put them all together and installed them above the entry:
The circular prow roofed dormer is a frequent candidate for the guitarde underpinnings:
Some places, like this one from a Chateau on Rue De La Gare (Station Street, Paris), get a little more, um, carried away:
This one is a little worse for wear and could use a rebuild:
Now I may be biased, but this is pretty damn neat:
A commune called La Veurdure in Alliers, France has some splendid examples on this building, photographed by Jean Beaubreuil:
If we saw more dormers like this, the world would surely be a better place, no?:
Not sure which way to turn?:
Another intriguing double dormer with intertwined guitardes, all atop a circular balcon with guitarde:
There is an example in Mazerolle’s book of a circular wall with circular balcony and guitarde. How crazy is that?
Chalon-sur-Saône is another commune having a guitarde dormer – I wonder what the connection (or attraction, perhaps?) with these structures and communes might be?: