Spandrel

A spandrel (less often spandril or splaundrel) is the space between two arches or between an arch and a rectangular enclosure.

There are four or five accepted and cognate meanings of spandrel in architectural and art history, mostly relating to the space between a curved figure and a rectangular boundary - such as the space between the curve of an arch and a rectilinear bounding moulding, or the wallspace bounded by adjacent arches in an arcade and the stringcourse or moulding above them, or the space between the central medallion of a carpet and its rectangular corners, or the space between the circular face of a clock and the corners of the square revealed by its hood. Also included is the space under a flight of stairs, if it is not occupied by another flight of stairs. This is a common location to find storage space in residential structures.

In a building with more than one floor the term spandrel is also used to indicate the space between the top of the window in one story and the sill of the window in the story above. The term is typically employed when there is a sculpted panel or other decorative element in this space, or when the space between the windows is filled with opaque or translucent glass, in this case called spandrel glass.

The spandrels over doorways in Perpendicular work are generally richly decorated. At Magdalen College, Oxford, is one which is perforated, and has a most beautiful effect. The spandrel of doors is sometimes ornamented in the Decorated period, but seldom forms part of the composition of the doorway itself, being generally over the label.

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