Post 548 –by Gautam Shah
Verandahs are compared to Antaravedi, a land between two rivers -a Doab. A verandah is a territory between a public and a private domain. The duality of the verandah persists through its many different forms across climates and cultures. The usage varies from intensively participatory space, a shading device to a decorative appendage. Verandahs or similar architectural spaces have been placed on outer faces and also on inside face abutting the inner courtyards or chowks. These spatial entities have been ‘embryonic elements’ that have formed spaces and activities into a cohesive organization.
The built-form of rooms protects, but as an enclosed space it becomes sometimes oppressive enough, for need to transgress it. Walls are removed and roofs are punctured to connect to the outside or other spaces. The change is brought in or the space reaches out. The openings create a hierarchy of spatial zones, a remote or inner zone close to the wall, and a series of gradually varying environments of ‘internal openness’, and ‘external vulnerability’. The spatial privacy and intimacy are passing and subjective, but not dependent on the spatial formations.
A verandah has had many architectural configurations. A lean-to like shade overtly attached to the shell of a building remains a casual expression for escape from the enclosed space. It is open on three sides as a transition space between interior and outdoor spaces. The low level of edge eaves frames the view. Such lean-to shades perambulate the house to provide shade and cover from the rains. It is a transition area between the public and private sections of the building, and circulatory space to access rooms that are often internally and intentionally unconnected, such as guest rooms, home office, food preparation area (Babarchi-khana), etc.
The verandah, of the mid-east architecture, the Iwan becomes the most important space for interactions, making the rest of the building a subdued refuge. Iwan or Liwan (Iwan with al prefix) relates to an old Persian word a-pad-an (appadana) standing for unprotected place (referring to the veranda-shaped structure open to the outside elements). A similar word in Sanskrit ‘apadana’ means ‘to arrive at‘. The Persian Apadana was a structure in as part of the palace buildings at Persepolis, with open verandas with columns on three sides. The columns and ceiling were replaced with a barrel vaulting, in Parthian and Sasanian architectures. This aywan of the post-Islamic architecture is a veranda, open on one face. A Riwaq is a longer or stretched out arcade or portico for transition, open on at least one side.
The traditional houses of mid-east regions have a multi-functional core space with distinctive spatial quality. The space offers controlled brightness and protection. It is more of a participatory space, and less for transition or circulation area. The space (till now) was for family engagements beyond the gender considerations. Such house forms with varied spatial arrangements, in various languages of the region, called as ‘tarma’, ‘riwaq’, ‘talar’, ‘ursi’, ‘hosch’ ‘sofa’, ‘eyvan’, engawa, ‘hayat, ‘lywan’, and ‘apadana’. These multi-functional core spaces are not outward transgressions but inward scoops incised from the shell of the built form. The front has been with and without columns, roof flat or vaulted, and the space height from single to multiple floors.
The typical Iraqi Tarma house is sited deep into the plot, with a largest possible courtyard in front of the Iwan space. The central space of the Tarma house is an atrium called as ‘hosch’ in Arabic. Tarma house courtyard has been often compared to A Roman atrium house (Also called Roman compliviatum). A Tarma house courtyard is open on all sides except for intentionally but separate buildings or neighbouring properties. A Roman atrium house, in comparison has a centrally located courtyard, well defined on all sides. Roman atrium side spaces can be compared to the ‘Osari or Parsal’ spaces that abut a central courtyard called Chowk. Osari is a verandah or small Liwan like space with or without columns, on one or many sides of the courtyard. The Osari oriented to different directions and house elements (such as kitchen, entrance, water-storage, etc.) serves different purposes.