Terrace in architecture

A terrace is an external, raised, open, flat area in either a landscape (such as a park or garden) near a building, or as a roof terrace on a flat roof.

Ground terraces
Terraces are used primarily for leisure activity such as sitting, strolling, or resting. The term often applies to a raised area in front of a monumental building or structure, which is usually reached by a grand staircase and surrounded by a balustrade. A terrace may be supported by an embankment or solid foundation, either natural or man-made. Terraces may also be platforms, supported by columns but without the space below filled in, but terraces are always open to the sky and may or may not be paved.

History and examples of terraces
Agricultural terracing can be traced back to prehistoric times. But architectural terracing is equally ancient. Examples of early architectural terracing in the Middle East have been found at Nahal Oren (a Natufian culture site ma occupied between 13000 and 9834 BCE), at Tel Yarmut (2700 to 2200 BCE), and at Tel el-‘Umeiri (600 BCE). Architectural terracing was widespread globally. For example, architectural (rather than agricultural) terracing also occurred on the island of Babeldaob in modern Palau in the Pacific Ocean.

Terraces are found the world over, throughout history. Terraces were used extensively throughout Greece in both public and private architecture, and rooftop terraces can be found at Knossos as early as 1700 BCE. Terraces were also built extensively in the Roman Empire, with terraces in front of monumental structures (such as temples) common throughout imperial history. Temples were terraced on the island of Java by at least 800 CE, and the practice spread to Cambodia. The first terrace stone temple in Cambodia was constructed at Bakong in 881 CE.

Terraces are often used for private residences. In traditional Thai homes (or “cluster houses”), the dwelling is built around a central terrace, or chaan. One or more “house cabins” (small, enclosed rooms) are placed around the edge of the terrace, and set about 40 centimetres (16 in) higher than the terrace to provide built-in bench seating. The terrace is often pierced in the center by a tree, which along with the house cabin roofs and walls provides shade, and may be decorated with large flat ceramic bowls of fish and water lilies or by potted plants.

Architectural theories for the use and design of terraces varies widely geographically and historically. In the early part of the 20th century, architects Henry and Theodore Hubbard argued that the basic function of a terrace was as an interesting base of an even more interesting building. Since the terrace was not the focal point of the structure, its design should be simple and it should command a view. More recently, architect Catherine Dee has noted that the terrace is most commonly used to link the structure to the landscape and as an extension of living space. According to architect Sophia Psarra, the terrace is one of the most commonly used forms of architecture in the 21st century, along with entrance halls, stairs, and corridors.

Landscape architect Russell Sturgis has observed that terraces tend to be used only in larger and more expensive gardens.

Roof terraces
Terraces need not always protrude from a building; a flat roof area (which may or may not be surrounded by a balustrade) used for social activity is also known as a terrace. In Venice, Italy, for example, the rooftop terrace (or altana) is the most common form of terrace found. Developed around 1500 CE, it remains little-changed today and consists of a wooden platform with small spaces between the floorboards. The altana was originally a place where laundry could be hung out to dry (hence the spaces in the flooring through which water could pass). Today, however, the altana is used primarily for social purposes.

The substructure ( substructure ) of terraces requires stone retaining walls or a construction of concrete or wood. The decking often consists of wood, concrete or natural stone slabs, but can also consist of other materials.

In a figurative sense, platforms on the roof ( roof terraces ) or on the level of an upper floor are today also referred to as terraces. The historically correct name for the latter is Söller or Altan.

On mountains or suitable terrain with good visibility often special, ground-level viewing terraces are created. As such, large platforms on lookout are also referred to.

The terrace is a patio. As an architectural element, it often creates a transition between the interior of a building and the adjacent garden. The adjoining rooms are usually open to the terrace with large doors and windows. The platform itself may be designed as a sheltered outdoor area, partially or completely covered or shaded by an awning or pergola. The garden can connect directly to the terrace or be on a lower level (or higher level on a slope) and be connected by stairs or ramps to the platform. The area of a terrain terrace can also be used to plant a garden.

On the sunny side of mountain huts, wooden terraces are often grown for dining and sunbathing.

Terrace house (stepped house)
In prehistoric times, for example in Egypt and Mesopotamia, entire palaces were built on terraces to compensate for the uneven ground, for example in Persepolis. The most famous terrace house was the Hanging Gardens of the Semiramis.

A terrace house in Germany was the ARAG terrace house in Dusseldorf.

Source from Wikipedia