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Charpentiers d'Europe et d'ailleurs
Guitarde Guitarde

In France, the concept of roof geometry allows carpenters to use three-dimensional scribing to design complex wooden structures.
Roof geometry is empirical-type knowledge, directly connected to practical worksite issues, but which has developed into a genuine intellectual discipline that cultivates the art of solving problems on one's own. It was developed by carpenters at the same time as stone-cutters were developing stereotomy, without the theoretical knowledge of either engineers or mathematicians.

Those who understand scribing have mastered the art of perceiving the volume of constructions; they have also perceived one of the essential qualities in the art of building.

Those who understand scribing have mastered the art of perceiving the volume of constructions; they have also perceived one of the essential qualities in the art of building. In France, the mastery of roof geometry goes hand in hand with strong symbolic and social practices, which play an essential role in guild-related imagery. Metaphorically speaking, understanding roof geometry means understanding one's place in the world and in society.
Knowledge of roof geometry developed starting in the 13th century. It was used during the construction of some of France's greatest monuments, and it was perfected over time. The surge of construction in the Middle Ages encouraged the growth and development of this type of knowledge.
To this day, scribing is taught in France. It bestows social and professional standing on those who learn it, particularly young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The technical nature of roofing geometry makes it somewhat inaccessible to the general public. Thanks to the support of Eric Lion and Patrick Amar, two carpentry teachers at the CEREF BTP at Bourgthroulde, we present one demonstration of it here.
The video concerns the creation of a roofed dormer window, which contains arches in three dimensions (media 1). Following this process step by step is not easy; nevertheless, we wanted to show it to give the visitor an idea of how an carpenter skilled in roof geometry goes from two dimensions to three, starting with a drawing and then tracing the pieces of wood on the ground plan.

Finally, The sequences of master carpenter Jean-Louis Valentin is essential for understanding the fundamental role that roof geometry plays in training young people within the carpenters' guild (media 2, 3, 4).

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France
France