What is a Quoin?

Pen and ink illustration of building external corner showing stone construction in detail
Long-and-short quoin stones. From The Arts in Early England (1903) by G. Baldwin Brown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Quite simply, a quoin is a corner.

Definition:

"Prominently beveled stones (or wood in imitation of stone) used to give emphasis to corners."—G. E. Kidder Smith, Source Book of American Architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996, p. 646

Quoin has come to be known as the accentuation of a building's corner with short side header bricks or stone blocks and long side stretcher bricks or stone blocks that may differ from the wall masonry in size, color, or texture.

Origin of Word:

The word quoin is pronounced the same as the word coin, which is an old French word meaning "corner" or "angle."

Architectural Significance:

  • decoration, defining space by visually outlining the geometry of a building
  • possible structural intent, to strengthen walls in order to add height

Predominance:

Most often found in European or Western-derived architecture, from ancient Rome, to 17th century France and England, and 19th century buildings in the United States.

Source: quoin, Encyclopædia Britannica online [accessed May 30, 2013]

Pronunciation: koin; koyn

Also Known As: corner; angle d'un mur