Information-dense charts show multiple relationships in data in a single, chart. They take more time to read/review, but provide deeper insights. This week’s example from R.W Brunskill’Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture shows the evolution of “vernacular architecture”. Vernacular architecture ” will have been designed by an amateur, probably of the occupier of the intended building and one without training in design; he will have been guided by a series of conventions in his locality, paying little attention to what will have been fashionable on an international scale”.
This chart shows multiple dimensions of data:
- Vernacular vs. Polite buildings over time (top chart line shows demarcation between vernaular and polite architecture)
- Proportion of Vernacular vs. Polite (Professioned ) over time
- Survival of vernacular buildings over time and size (lower line on chart)
- Number of vernacular buildings by suze and time period (century) (dots)
What can we learn from the chart?
- Most of the surviving buildings surveyed are are from 1700 — 1900 and small or large houses. Great houses were built mainly before 1500
- By 1700, all the great houses were created by professional architects (“polite architecture”), after 1800, most large houses were done by professional architects also.
- Few cottages survive before 1800; in general there are few existing at all
- By 1900, most houses were built by architects and not vernacular architecture.
- The results need to be taken carefully as it is based on the surveys taken — how complete they are, what was missing or no longer extant would impact the chart.
- The author modified the two curves , flattening the top (vernacular vs. polite) curve based on scholarly research available, even if the entire houses were not in existence. He deails them with the chart:
How could we improve the chart?
- Add better definitions of the terms “polite”, “vernacular”, along with the criteria for the sizes (what is a great house). These are covered in the bo0k but a summary for the chart woul dbe useful
- Add a data table with cross reference to identify which are the specific houses shown (if interactive, with mouseover, it could show the house information)
- Better data labels on sections of the chart to make it self-evident.
Here’s an improved version: