European rural architecture follows patterns that differ regionally. For example, timber framing, which can be found in parts of Germany, is virtually absent in Austria. The same is true for the layout of farmsteads. Different groundplans exist in different regions, and most traditional farms would have followed the local model.
Here is a map of the distribution of different types in Austria:
For my 1809 project, I decided to build a so-called “Dreikanter”, or three-sided farm, as this was the predominant model in Upper and Lower Austria, along the axis of the French advance towards Vienna. The farm has buildings on three sides and a wall with a large door on one side, closing the central yard. On one side would be living quarters, while on the other barns and stables would be located.
For the overall look of such a building, I used this old photograph as inspiration:
My aim was to build a model that was large enough to work as a central piece for a scenario, but small enough not to dominate the playing surface entirely. As with all my buildings, the scale is reduced, as I don’t assume a 1:1 ratio between figures and men in Sharp Practice – I usually assume that one figure represents 3-5 men, sometimes even more, depending on the scenario.
I quickly decided that I would not make the buildings accessible for figures. In my experience, this is too much of a hassle. It makes fitting the roofs more difficult and at the reduced scale, it gets very fiddly to place figures inside.
The core structure of the model was made with a material I now tend to use for all my buildings, namely a very sturdy but still easy to cut cardboard that is sold as “Finnpappe”, which seems to be some sort of wood cardboard made in Finland. It has really great properties – most importantly, I never had any problems with warping – and is inexpensive.
I printed windows with my 3-D printer and glued them to the cardboard. Then I applied thinned-down filler to the walls to give them a nice structure. The wooden parts I covered with matchsticks.
At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, most rural buildings in Austria were still covered with straw or reed. Roof shingles or even tiles would be rare and only to be found on big estates or churches. To model the straw, I used a dustcloth which I glued to the roof and then soaked in thinned-down PVA glue.
I made the front wall seperately and did not glue it in place immediately, as I wanted to paint the whole thing before doing so. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to get to certain parts with the brush.
Also, I made the big front door moveable. After unsuccessful experiments with improvised hinges I went to a local dollhouse store and bought small hinges. They weren’t too expensive and the Lego-loving child inside me is happy that he can open and close the tiny doors…
Finally, a lick of paint and some drybrushing, and I have a Dreikanter for my 1809 campaign:
Dimt, Gunter: “Ergebnisse der Hausforschung im Mühlviertel. Eine Zwischenbilanz,” in: Das Mühlviertel. OÖ. Landesausstellung. Bd. 2: Beiträge. Linz 1988, p. 347-360.
Ellenberg, Heinz: Bauernhaus und Landschaft in ökologischer und historischer Sicht. Stuttgart: Ulmer 1990.
Schröder, Karl Heinz: “Das bäuerliche Anwesen in Mitteleuropa,” in: Geographische Zeitschrift 62 (4), 1974, pp. 241-271.