What is a Quoin?

Quoins – used to support corners of buildings – are common in Roman architecture.

In traditional Georgian and Roman architecture, before the advent of modern housing support infrastructure, the corners of buildings often required extra support to support the weight of multi-storey stone roofs. This was particularly true of medieval and Victorian castles and major estates and cathedrals. Architects charged with constructing such buildings often obtained corner support with the use of a wedge. A quoin is a block, usually of stone or brick, placed at the corner junction between supporting walls. Dimensions normally protrude from the corner, but they can also be recessed and in any case give a varied, almost striped appearance to the corner of a building.

Quoins had a very important role to play in traditional architecture. They deflected and distributed the weight, relieving the pressure on the stone walls between which they sat. Without them, the walls would be unlikely to be structurally sound and many would have collapsed before construction was even completed.

The result was also aesthetically pleasing, as they created a unique visual deviation and a sense of depth and interest. The use of quoin stone and quoin stones quickly became synonymous with nobility and wealth. Most homes occupied by peasants and commoners were too small to require quoin support, and architectural services were never cheap.

Modern architecture in the West continues to embrace the aesthetic elements of the quoin, although the use of the quoin is rarely more functional. Modern architectural techniques allow walls and buildings to be supported internally without extra corner supports. Furthermore, homes and buildings in the 21st century are rarely, if ever, made solely of stone.

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Although countries like the United States, Australia and Canada have never known truly ancient buildings or resident nobility, the architectural preferences of these ancient beings continue to captivate homeowners and business developers in these markets. Decorative hills can be seen in homes and office buildings all over the world. They are generally believed to lend class and an old world feel to buildings, especially those of stone or brick.

Even so, decorative hills should be planned by architects with a little foresight. With few exceptions, dimensions cannot be added to a building after construction. A decorative brick wedge or limestone wedge is built into the original structure or facade and would serve as a structural support, but usually not to the depth or extent of a functional wedge.

Often quoins are enhanced by the use of brick or stone in a color that contrasts with the rest of the wall. Even the evenly colored quoins lend a unique and remarkable look, however. Stucco corners are an example of corners that are almost always the same color as the rest of the structure. Stucco dimensions are usually affixed to the outside of a finished corner, but are usually anticipated by prepared grooves and entries introduced during construction. Stucco hills can sometimes be added to buildings that were not designed with glue in mind, but this is generally not recommended.

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