Lexicon
Gable

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See also 'Pediment'

The triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof. It can also be a parapet at the end of a roof which hides the line of the roof.

Front gables are those that face the street or direction of approach, usually centred on the front elevation.

End gables terminate lateral wings of the building.

Front gables in particular are often used as style bearers. They are characteristic of Cape Dutch architecture.

Besides their use as a decorative and stylistic device in architecture they derive from the practicalities of providing a solid surface against which to terminate and protect the roof covering, protect the front door from water shed and in the case of fire, provide a safe exit protected from falling debris. Side or end gables often have stairs or ladders with an access to the attic or roof space for servicing and storage.

Front gable types include:
Eyebrow (leg-o-mutton or wolweneus gable (see for example Nederduitse Gereformeerde Sendingkerk - Mission Church);
Curviliear gables including concavo-convex gables (see for example Meerlust);
Necked gables, for example Groot Constantia; Florid or Baroque gables (see for example Morgenster - Morning Star);
Neo-Classical (see for example Koopmans de Wet House - Iziko Museum);
Flat-pitched gable (see for example Martin Melck House (Old Lutheran Parsonage).

End gables are usually simpler but often retained as style bearers. The following types might be identified:
Straight gables (for example Duiwehok - Dovecot (Meerlust)); Concavo-convex gables (see for example Buffelsdrift); Baroque gables (see for example Groot Constantia - Second Restoration);
Stepped gables (see for example Netherlands Bank - Second);
Pointed apex;
Flat-pitched.

ample

Drawings by Frank Gaylard from: Fisher, Roger C. 1992. Visual Lexicon of the South African Dwelling. Cape Town: Unibook. p, 6-7.