Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 30, 2015

Rain chains

Napkin Sketch Series

Let’s talk about downspouts for a moment. They’re a necessity if your house has gutters. The water needs to be directed to the ground and away from the perimeter of the structure.

Too often, they are an afterthought in the design of a home, and as such can become an ugly feature that sticks out like a sore thumb. My approach is to incorporate them as a feature that adorns a home. Make them integral with the style of architecture and they disappear into the building-scape.

Suppose you have a covered porch or entry feature that really catches the eye and defines the architectural style of the home. There is an alternative to snaking a metal downspout down the side of the wall and onto grade.

I am suggesting a rain chain, a traditional Japanese detail architects have been using for years as an alternative for taking the runoff from roof to ground. Many styles exist, all of which accomplish the same goal of directing rain water to the ground or into a water garden, where it can be used to create another type of landscaping feature or, as may be the case today, used as storage for landscaping irrigation.

Choosing the style of chain is up to the owner, but I would recommend the cup and funnel type since they mitigate splash during times of use. The base connection should prevent the chain from swinging in a breeze, and can attach to an existing drain, sloped paving for runoff, or even into a rain barrel, which is a discussion for another day.

In this sketch, I’ve shown the chain blending with a bungalow style porch column, lending itself to a more rustic architecture. More contemporary styles use the same idea, creating a clean look and enhancing home design more than the classic corrugated metal downspout we all have come to accept as the industry standard.

Ed Garbee can be found at Garbee Architecture, located at 633 Chestnut St., Ste. 600, in Chattanooga. Contact him at (423) 364-2830 and g-arch@bellsouth.net.