About Santa Fe

Architectural Details found in Pueblo Revival Buildings

Glossary of Terms

Adobe is a building material made from clay, sand, water and straw or dung. This mixture is poured into molds and allowed to dry in the sun. This building technique was brought to Santa Fe by the Spanish.

Alcobas are bedrooms, steel or cast iron bed frames.

Alacenas are wall cupboards.

Banco is a plaster bench found along a wall and often adjacent to a kiva fireplace.

Banos are bathrooms.

Cajas is a wood chest for clothes.

Canales are rectangular wooden water spouts that draw water off the traditional flat roofs found in Santa Fe.

Carpintero is the Spanish word for “carpenter.”

Casa is the Spanish word for “home.”  A casita is a small, usually Southwest style cottage, either freestanding or attached to the main house.

Cocina is the Spanish word for “kitchen.”

Comedore is the Spanish word for “dining room.”

Coping is a decorative and functional treatment to the top part of a wall, often made of kiln-fired bricks, originally to the main house.

Corbels are decorative supports made from stone or wood. Those used in Pueblo Revival buildings are used to support the vigas. They are both decorative and functional.

Cornice is the ornamental molding, usually of wood or plaster, that runs around the walls of a room just below the ceiling or roof top.

Entrada is an entryway.

Fogon is a corner set fireplace.

Hacienda is a territorial mansion.

Horno is a freestanding, chimney-less bread oven used by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.  Like many elements of Southwestern style, the functional horno has become a vestigial ornament used to accent the patio or courtyard of suburban homes.

Jardines is the Spanish word for “garden.”

Kiva Fireplace is a small, rounded fireplace built into a corner, named for the round ceremonial chambers used by Pueblo peoples. A well-built kiva fireplace draws well.

Latillas are straight, slender saplings with the bark removed that swerve as ceiling support. They are supported by vigas. Usually they are laid perpendicularly to vigas, but sometimes are laid in a more ornate herringbone pattern.

Lintels are headers, or horizontal supports, above windows, doors, or other wall openings. Often rough-hewn wooden beams, lintels are left exposed as a design element and often feature designs hand-carved into the wood. The post-and-lintel system (two vertical posts supporting a horizontal beam) is one of the oldest means for constructing an entrance-way.

Maceta is the Spanish word for “flower pot”; also an enclosed patio in a hacienda; a bright place.

Miridor is the Spanish word for “balcony.”

Nicho is a niche in a wall, originally made to display bultos (religious carvings).

Olla is the Spanish word for “basket.”

Parapet is a low wall extending above the roofline. In modern design, a parapet often masks a slightly pitched roof, which prevents the leaky flat roof syndrome of older Pueblo architecture.

Placita is a central, enclosed courtyard.

Portal is a covered porch attached to a building.

Pueblo (Spanish for “village”) often refers to a communal dwelling built by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest. The buildings were – and still are, in many cases – constructed of stone or adobe. The structures can tower up to five stories high and contain many individual family units.

Ramada is a freestanding canopy.

Rammed Earth is a type of construction where walls are built compacting soil and aggregates in forms on the site.

Retablo is a painted wood plaque, usually of a saint.

Ristra is a string of red chile peppers.

Sala is a living room with a fireplace.

Saltillo is a clay or terra cotta tile, traditionally cured in the sun, now often fired; the smoother finished version is called super saltillo.

Santos is a carved wood statue of a saint.

Sombraje (meaning “branch covered screen”) refers to a brand of branch-covered shutters and furniture developed in 1981 by Santa Fe artist Hillary Riggs and her late husband, Graham Nugent.  The brand was later bought by Ernest Thompson Cabinets and Furniture.

Trastero is a cupboard that is not built-in

Vigas are beams made from peeled round logs that usually extend to the outside of a building. These are found in dwellings at ancestral Pueblo sites. While at one time they were structural, in Pueblo Revival style they often are more decorative than functional.

Zaguan is an entry, hall or courtyard.

Zapatas are the upright posts that hold up portals.