Page H1 . 24 September 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Patterns of Home
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    Patterns of Home
    Pattern Nine Places in Between : Porches

    ArchWeek Photo

    For a house by Huestis Tucker Architects, the front porch creates a graceful entry and inviting outdoor room. Carving the porch into the volume of the house increases the sense of protection from the elements.
    Photo: Martha Coneybear


    Every house needs places that allow you to inhabit the edge and offer enough exposure to make you aware of your surroundings and enough protection to make you comfortable. We need places where we can stop and take a deep breath, places in between the coming and going, the planning and the acting, the indoors and the outdoors.

    The Front Porch: Outside Being In

    The southern front porch is the archetypal place in between, perfectly suited for "just sitting," located on the fringe rather than at the center of the action, comfortable without being fussy.

    Neither indoors nor out, the porch is nonetheless a real room with a ceiling, walls implied by corner posts and rails, and a wooden floor.

    It has a view over the street or out to the garden, and it is just off the path to the entry of the house, keeping it in contact with the comings and goings of the household.

    The furnishings are designed to invite lingering and to encourage relaxing rocking chairs, gliders, and porch swings are not meant for hard work.

    The porch adds to the life of the house and makes very few demands in return.

    ArchWeek Photo

    Outdoor places in between need to be clearly defined as a room. Use a roof, columns, or wall elements to imply containment.
    Image: The Taunton Press

    ArchWeek Photo

    Southern porches are quintessential in-between places, offering moments that feel apart from time and out of space.
    Photo: Susan Felter

    ArchWeek Photo

    Pay attention to the moment of passing from inside to in between and mark it architecturally.
    Image: The Taunton Press

    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

    Working with the Pattern

    Design places in between as cul-de-sacs, quiet pools with no through traffic. Equip them with seats, make them comfortable to invite lingering, and keep traffic flow to the edge.

    Make sure that interior places in between feel truly surrounded by the outdoors; otherwise they'll be just another room. When you are within them, your connection to the outside should be as strong as to the inside. Accomplish this by actually popping the space out from the building's walls, as in a dormer or a bay window, or by making the edges of the space transparent enough that the outside appears to be barely held off, as in sunrooms or porches.

    Exterior places in between must provide some of the security and comfort associated with being indoors. Use structural elements to imply enclosure and to create a sense of containment. Add furniture, finishes, and lighting that offer an indoor level of comfort.

    Although places in between vary widely in size and comfort, they must remain as secondary spaces, adjuncts to the primary rooms (inside or outside) they are associated with.

    Patterns of Home

    Discuss this article in our Home Design Forum...



    Part of the ArchitectureWeek Patterns series. Text and images excerpted with permission from Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design by Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein, and Barbara Winslow, copyright © 2002 The Taunton Press, Inc. The book is available from The Taunton Press and at

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