In architecture and city planning, a terrace(d) house, terrace, row house, linked house or townhouse (though the last term can also refer to patio houses) is a style of medium-density housing that originated in Europe in the 16th century, where a row of identical or mirror-image houses share side walls. The Place des Vosges in Paris (1605–1612) is one of the early examples of the style. The first and last of these houses is called an end terrace, and is often a different layout from the houses in the middle.
Terrace housing can be found throughout the world, though it is in abundance in Europe, and extensive examples can be found in North America and Oceania. Sometimes associated with the working class, historical and reproduction terraces have increasingly become part of the process of gentrification in certain inner-city areas.
Origins and nomenclature 
The practice of homes built uniformly to the property line began in the 16th century and became known as "row" houses. "Yarmouth Rows" in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk is an example where the building fronts uniformly ran right to the property line.
The term terrace was borrowed from garden terraces by British architects of the late Georgian period to describe streets of houses whose uniform fronts and uniform height created an ensemble that was more stylish than a "row". Townhouses (or townhomes) are generally two– to three-storey structures that share a wall with a neighbouring unit. As opposed to an apartment building, townhouses do not have neighbouring units above or below them. They are similar in concept to row houses or terraced houses, except they are usually divided into smaller groupings of homes.
Australia and New Zealand 
In Australia and New Zealand, the term "terrace house" refers almost exclusively to Victorian and Edwardian era terraces or replicas almost always found in the older, inner city areas of the major cities. Modern suburban versions of this style of housing are referred to as "town houses".
Terraced housing was introduced to Australia from the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. Large numbers of terraced houses were built in the inner suburbs of large Australian cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, mainly between the 1850s and the 1890s (terraced housing is rare outside of these cities). The beginning of this period coincided with a population boom caused by the Victorian and New South Wales Gold Rushes of the 1850s and finished with an economic depression in the early 1890s. Detached housing became the popular style of housing in Australia following Federation in 1901.
Terraced housing in Australia ranged from expensive middle-class houses of three, four and five-storeys down to single-storey cottages in working-class suburbs. The most common building material used was brick, often covered with stucco. Many terraces were built in the "Filigree" style, a style distinguished through heavy use of cast iron ornament, particularly on the balconies and sometimes depicting native Australian flora. As some terraces were built speculatively, there are examples of "freestanding" and "semi-detached" terraces which were either intended to have adjoin terraces or the neighbouring buildings were later demolished.
In the first half of the twentieth-century, terraced housing in Australia fell into disfavour and the inner-city areas where they were found were often considered slums. In the 1950s, many urban renewal programs were aimed at eradicating them entirely in favour of high-rise development. In recent decades these inner-city areas and their terraced houses have been gentrified. Terrace houses are now highly sought after in Australia, and due to their proximity to the CBD of the major cities, are often expensive.
With artificial urban boundaries, new townhouse type developments—often nostalgically evoking old style terraces in a post-modern style—returned to the favour of local planning offices in many suburban areas.
Row housing became the popular style in Paris, France. The Place des Vosges (1605 – 1612) was one of the earliest examples of the style. In Parisian squares, central blocks were given discreet prominence, to relieve the façade. Terraced building including housing was also used primarily during Haussmann's renovation of Paris between 1852 and 1870 creating whole streetscapes consisting of terraced rows.
United Kingdom and Ireland 
In Great Britain, the first streets of houses with uniform fronts were built by the Huguenot entrepreneur Nicholas Barbon in the rebuilding after the Great Fire of London. The Georgian idea of treating a row of houses as if it were a palace front, giving the central houses columned fronts under a shared pediment, appeared first in London's Grosvenor Square (1727 onwards; rebuilt) and in Bath's Queen Square (1729 onwards) (Summerson 1947). The Scottish architect Robert Adam is credited with the development of the house itself.
Early terraces were also built by the two John Woods in Bath and under the direction of John Nash in Regent's Park, London, and the name was picked up by speculative builders like Thomas Cubitt and soon became commonplace. It is far from being the case that terraced houses were only built for people of limited means, and this is especially true in London, where some of the wealthiest people in the country owned terraced houses in locations such as Belgrave Square and Carlton House Terrace. They are hallmarks of Georgian architecture.
By the early Victorian period, a terrace had come to designate any style of housing where individual houses repeating one design are joined together into rows. The style was used for workers' housing in industrial districts during the great industrial boom following the industrial revolution, particularly in the houses built for workers of the expanding textile industry. The terrace style spread widely in the United Kingdom, and was the usual form of high density residential housing up to World War II, though the 19th century need for expressive individuality inspired variation of facade details and floor-plans reversed with those of each neighbouring pair, to offer variety within the standardised format.
A major distinction is between through terraces, whose houses have both a front and a back door, and back-to-backs, which are bricked in on three sides. Since the Second World War, housing redevelopment has led to many outdated or dilapidated terraces being cleared to make room for tower blocks, which occupy a much smaller area of land. Because of this land use in the inner city areas could in theory have been used to create greater accessibility, employment or recreational or leisure centres. However botched implementation meant that in many areas (like Manchester or the London estates) the towerblocks offered no real improvement for rehoused residents over their prior terraced houses.
In 2005 the English Heritage report Low Demand Housing and the Historic Environment found that repairing a standard Victorian terraced house over thirty years is around sixty-percent cheaper than building and maintaining a newly-built house. In a 2003 survey for Heritage Counts a team of experts contrasted a Victorian terrace with a house built after 1980, and found that:
The research demonstrated that, contrary to earlier thinking, older housing actually costs less to maintain and occupy over the long-term life of the dwelling than more modern housing. Largely due to the quality and life-span of the materials used, the Victorian terraced house proved almost £1,000 per 100 m2 cheaper to maintain and inhabit on average each year.
North America 
Montréal has the largest stock of row houses in Canada and they are typical in all areas of the city. As is common in other North American cities, in Montreal row houses are often referred to as townhouses.
The streetscape of the city's 19th neighbourhoods, such as the Plateau, Centre-Sud, and Hochelaga, are dominated by row houses that have been subdivided into duplexes and triplexes. Row houses continued to be built throughout the 20th century. In many neighbourhoods, such as Villeray, Parc Extension, and Ville-Émard, they became the dominant form of housing during the post-war period.
In the 21st century, Montréal has continued to build row houses at a high rate, with 62% of housing starts in the metropolitan area being apartment or row units. Apartment complexes, high-rises, and semi-detached homes are less popular in Montréal when compared to large Canadian cities like Toronto or Vancouver but similar to some US cities, in particular Philadelphia. This may be due to these cities having developed earlier. Montréal's characteristic row houses and their iconic alleyways, balconies, and outdoor staircases have become cultural symbols of the city, featured in David Fennario's Balconville and Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
Terraced homes are popular in Old Toronto. Many of them are constructed in the local Bay-and-gable style. A significant row known as Walnut Hall was demolished in 2007 as a result of structural decay.
United States 
The first terraced houses in the United States were Carstairs Row in Philadelphia, designed by builder and architect Thomas Carstairs circa 1799 through 1820, for developer William Sansom, as part of the first speculative housing developments in the United States. Carstairs Row was built on the southern part of the site occupied by "Morris' Folly" – Robert Morris’ unfinished mansion designed by L'Enfant. Prior to this time houses had been built not in rows, but individually. It can be contrasted with Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuously occupied road in the U.S., where all the houses are of varying heights and widths, with different street lines, doorways and brickwork.
Terrace housing in American usage generally continued to be called townhouses in the United States. In Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC, they are simply called row houses or row homes, and are very common. Despite the narrow lots, many row houses are relatively large, some being over 2,000 square feet. A townhouse in the northeast refers to newer constructions of terraced houses, of suburban nature, especially.
In much of the Southern United States, they are referred to as row homes. In the United States the term commonly describes a two story, owner-occupied housing unit that shares a wall with one or more neighboring units. If you share a ceiling or floor, it is simply referred to as a multi level apartment. In the Midwest and Great Plains (and often in Georgia), they are referred to as "townhomes." The term is not very specific, and sometimes means one side of a duplex.
Most of Baltimore's housing consists of row houses. Many of Baltimore's row houses date back to colonial times. The style and materials used in their constructions vary throughout the city. A sizable quantity of Baltimore's row houses are clad with formstone, a distinct feature of Baltimore's row houses, typically found in working class areas of the city. Marble Steps also set Baltimore's row houses distinct from other cities' row houses. Much like Philadelphia, some areas of the city that contain row houses are neglected.
In Chicago, row houses can be found in the downtown & surrounding areas developed in the late 1800s through 1930s. Many are 2 and 3-flat buildings (consisting of 1 or sometimes 2 apartments on a 3 floored building). A Greystone is similar to the Brownstone found in New York and Boston, except the facade is clad in Indiana Limestone. Most row houses are separated by a gangway that leads under the common wall between the houses leading to the rear of the property (where sometimes a rear house or coach house exists) & alleyway. It should be noted that the vast majority of 2 and 3 flats do not share a common wall and are stand alone structures. However, many row houses similar to those in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond do exist, notably in Lincoln Park neighborhood.
New Orleans 
New Orleans has a distinctive style of terrace house in the French Quarter known as the Creole Townhouse and are part of what makes the city famous. The facade of the building sits on the property line, with an asymmetrical arrangement of arched openings. Creole Townhouses have a steeply pitched roof, side-gabled, with several roof dormers. The exterior is made of brick or stucco.
New York City 
The row houses of New York City are built with a varity of material, including brownstone, limestone, and brick, and some are wood frame homes. Row houses are especially prominent in neighborhoods like Middle Village, Woodhaven and Jackson Heights in Queens and Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Bushwick, Park Slope, Canarsie and Marine Park in Brooklyn and Williamsbridge, Wakefield, and Soundview in The Bronx. New York Realtors commonly refer to these homes as "attached houses".
In historic Philadelphia, almost the entire city is populated with various types of row houses. Many of Philadelphia's row houses date back to colonial times. The style and type of material used in constructing Philadelphia's row houses vary throughout the city. Most homes are primarily red brick in construction, with stone and marble accent.
There are some communities in the city where the homes are built of solid granite, such as Mayfair in Northeast Philadelphia and Mt. Airy in Northwest Philadelphia. West Philadelphia has many colorful row houses in the Queen Anne architectural style.
San Francisco 
San Francisco is also famous for its terraced houses. The "Painted Ladies" on Steiner Street, Alamo Square, although not strictly "terraced," are a symbol of the city. Other homes labelled as painted ladies around the city are terraced, and other again are semi-detached.
Other Cities 
In other cities throughout the United States, such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Richmond, and Norfolk, row houses and terraced housing are also common occurrences, with the row housing more focused on the center of the city, and later changing over to dense detached housing in outer neighborhoods. Scattered row homes and apartment rows can often be found in other eastern and Midwestern U.S. cities, specifically Minneapolis and St. Paul, where row houses can be found in Minneapolis neighborhoods such as Elliot Park, Whittier, Loring Park, and Marcy-Holmes, and St. Paul neighborhoods such as Summit Hill and West Seventh. The F. Scott Fitzgerald House in St. Paul is likely the most notable example of a row home in the Twin Cities. Columbus, Ohio has scattered row homes, along with smaller Midwest cities like Toledo and Duluth.
Malaysia and Singapore 
Introduced around the beginning of the twentieth century, terraced houses (also known as shophouses or linear linkhouses) have been adopted in both Malaysia and Singapore since the countries' early British colonial rule.
Based on British terraced home designs, the Southeast Asian variations are similar to their British counterparts (in which the living quarters are located on the front and top floor and the kitchen at the back) and were adapted to accommodate the area's tropical weather, which is primarily warm throughout the year and receives heavy rainfall. Earlier versions were more open, designed to better circulate air and features inner courtyards, with a frontal yard, rear yard, or both. A typical Malaysian and Singaporean terraced house is usually one or two floors high, but a handful of three or four storey terraced homes exist, especially newer terraced houses. Earlier variations followed traditional Western, Malay, India and Chinese architecture, as well as Art Deco and International stylings between the 1930s and 1950s.
The manner in which the buildings were designed varies by their location in an urban area. Derivatives located within city centres may also utilize their space for both commercial on the ground floor and residential use on the first floor and above (accurately known as shophouses, also similar to Lingnan buildings). Inner city terrace house design tended to lack any frontal yard at all, with narrow street frontages, hence the building's structure directly erected in front of the road. One of the reasons behind this was the taxing according to street frontage rather than total area, thereby creating an economic motivation to build narrow and deeply. A five foot way porch was usually laid out at the ground floor for use by both the residents and pedestrians. Alternatively, the porch may be sealed from the rest of the walkway to serve as personal space. Such designs became less common after the 1960s.
Terrace houses located on the outskirts of city centres were less restrictive, although the design of the building itself was not unlike those in the city. Certain homes tend to feature longer front yards, enough to accommodate cars. Others strictly serve as a small garden. This design remained in demand throughout the twentieth century, and a construction boom of the house design occurred in Malaysia since the 1940s, with numerous housing estates consisting of terrace homes sprouting in and around cities and towns. In the process, the design of the building began to diversify, with various refinements and style changes. Generally, the building's floor space and yards become larger and more elaborate through time, as is the modernisation of exterior construction and facade.
Certain older terrace houses tend to be converted for various new roles; some are converted into shophouses or business premises (including clubs, hotels and boarding homes–especially pre-independence houses–and kindergartens). Others have remained in use as residential units, are abandoned, neglected, or razed. Significant expansions are also common on all terrace homes; roofs and additional rooms may be added within the floorspace of the house's lot. Concerns are also raised with the limited maintenance and monitoring of deserted terrace homes, which potentially become hiding places for rodents and snakes (in yards with overgrown grass), and drug addicts.
Earlier variations of the terrace house were constructed with wood, later replaced with a masonry shell holding wooden beams to form foundations for the upper floors and tiled roof. Contemporary variations are primarily held together with reinforced concrete beams, which are later completed with concrete slabs, brick walls and tiled roofs.
See also 
Sources and further reading 
- Summerson, John, 1947. "John Wood and the English town-planning tradition" collected in Heavenly Mansions (1963).
- Summerson, Georgian London.
- Chen, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Volume 5 (1998).
- Hayward, Mary Ellen; Belfoure, Charles (2001). The Baltimore Rowhouse. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-56898-283-0.
- Howells, T. Morris, C. Terrace houses in Australia. The Rocks, N.S.W. : Lansdowne, 1999. ISBN 1863026495
- William, Logan (1985). The Gentrification of inner Melbourne - a political geography of inner city housing. University of Queensland Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-7022-1729-8.
- Jay Jacobs, The Encyclopedia of World Art, 1st ed. (London, 1975), p. 9.
- DUNLEAVY, Patrick: The Politics of Mass Housing in Britain in 1945-75. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981
- Carstairs, Thomas (1759?-1830) - Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
- Untitled Document
- National Park Service - Signers of the Declaration (Robert Morris)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Terraced houses|
- http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/terraces.html - A tribute to the typical terraced houses of Leicester, UK