Fronts and backs Print

Desi​gn Checklist​

  1. Terraced housing exhibits a clearly defined ‘public front and private back’ pattern of development
  2. The ends of terraced houses, in particular on street or lane corners, successfully address both the primary and secondary streets​​

All residential buildings, including terraced housing, should present a clearly defined ‘front’ to the public street or open space, while containing a private ‘back’ to the rear of the site. In doing so, the house can provide a high degree of residential amenity by accommodating private rooms (bathrooms and bedrooms) away from the public street edge, and locating more public areas (kitchen, living room, dining room and entrance at the front.

To work well and offer safety and privacy, terraced houses should have a clear public entrance, including a welcoming pathway to the front door, and a clear private back in the form of a garden, courtyard balcony or roof terrace. This section looks at how to arrange terraced housing on a site, how to design the ‘edges’ or ends of terraced housing rows and the importance of thinking about service areas early on.

Better Design Practice

Locate public fronts addressing public fronts, and private backs to private backs wherever possible.

Terraced housing accessed via parking courts or laneways should exhibit the same front and back arrangements as houses the front on to streets, with the front and entrance opening directly onto the laneway and remaining visible from the public street. 

Other qualities of a ‘front’ should include: 
  • a clearly accessible and visible front door 
  • a sheltered porch or threshold
  • an area for plants or seating 
  • a tidy bin area or enclosure if relevant 
  • a kitchen or other well-used habitable room adjacent to the front entrance, to offer passive surveillance of the area by the occupants.

Design façade edges and the ends of rows with as much attention as the front façade, particularly where they are visible from the street. Consider the placement of: 
  • windows and balconies fronting this edge
  • secondary entrances
  • facade articulation
  • functional and attractive landscaping along boundary interfaces.
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