When they say life just isn’t the same anymore, they must not be talking about residential housing. Did you know that a number of design elements in today’s homes have their origins in ancient times?
Anyone visiting southern Europe would know that the entry courtyard is nothing new. Private open spaces surrounded by walls or structures have been in use in residential architecture since around 6000 BC. Courtyards have historically been used for many purposes including cooking, sleeping, working, playing, gardening, and even places to keep animals. Today’s entry courtyards are great for wine-tasting or sitting on comfy chairs while enjoying a colorful garden.
Courtyard homes are more prevalent in the western U.S., where the weather stays warm and dry for longer periods of time. However, courtyard houses have been found in harsher climates as well for centuries. The comforts offered by a courtyard include light, privacy, security, and tranquility and the extension of a home’s living space.
Just because we no longer use horses and carriages doesn’t mean the porte-cochère disappeared. This architectural element is a covered porch-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building through which a vehicle can pass to provide arriving and departing occupants and supplies protection from the elements. Earlier versions may have included a gate, but today’s are open, often included over a driveway that leads back to the garage.
The porte-cochère was a feature of many late 18th- and 19th-century mansions and public buildings. While they are found at both elaborate private homes, today they are sometimes included in mid-sized home designs — not to be confused with a carports.
Tile roofing goes WAY back…
Today’s copycat concrete tile roofs have their roots in the 3rd millennium BC Greek architecture. Fired terra-cotta tiles have been found strewn around many an archeological site and were documented as far back as the Mycenaean period. Their popularity spreading rapidly, roof tiles were in evidence for a large number of sites around the Eastern Mediterranean, including Mainland Greece, Western Asia Minor, and Southern and Central Italy.
Cooking al fresco…
You've seen them popping up all over the country over the past 20 years, but that doesn’t mean the outdoor kitchen is a novelty. Outdoor grilling and cooking came into play during the Bronze Age. Soon after the discovery of fire, some of the earliest “grills” were created, evidenced those found by archaeologists as early as 2300 BC.
Speed up the clock, and you’ll find the first accounts of outdoor grills in the Western world come from the West Indies during the 1600s. The island natives coined the term “barbacoa,” which generally refers to meats or whole sheep slow-cooked over an open fire. According to Wikipedia, Southerners experimented with slow roasting whole pigs, and other types of meats caked in unique sauces and wood chips, resulting in tender, flavorful meals. “Even our nation’s first president, George Washington, recounted in his diary May 27, 1769 his first barbecue social gathering in Alexandria, Virginia. Andrew Jackson planted “barbecue trees” on the Whitehouse’s grounds as fuel for his presidential cookouts.”
It wasn’t until the late-1990s that outdoor kitchen cabinet manufacturers entered the scene, creating built-in spaces that could house all types of grilling products for a one-stop-shop experience appealed to homeowners.
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