Post 681 –by Gautam Shah
Eaves, is a curious word. It has a dilemma hung on it. It is both singular and plural form of the word. It derives from Old English ‘efes’ =edge. It cognates, with words like, Old High German ‘obisa’, Gothic ‘ubizwa’ (hall), Gothic ‘ubizwa’ (porch), Greek ‘hupsos’ (height) and German ‘oben’ (above). Eaves are not just the roof edge up-above, but overhanging edges of a hat or forests.
Eaves-dropping and eaves-dripping are etymologically related, but serve vastly different meaning. Eaves-dropping is listening to a private conversation, standing under the sill outside the window, and that sill ‘drops’ under the eaves projection. Or is it trying to over-listen idiosyncrasies of eves. Eaves-dripping is the dripping of water falling off the roof edge, and sometimes causing land washout.
The eaves are projected roof edges or additional structures at a lower level, but both primarily conceived to throw rain water clear of the walls. These were required to protect softer wall materials or the masonry joints, like mud. Eaves help throw rain water away, not only because of the depth of the projection but its angle. These prevent erosion of the footings and plinths.
Deep eaves shade the walls from sun-rays. The shaded areas of eaves form a buffer air zone to protect the walls from convective heat. Eaves as projections add to the upward load on the undersides. Projected eaves of wood, are fire prone elements. Modern buildings are constructed without any type of overhangs, because it hampers servicing-cleaning of facades, enhances efficiency of disaster rescue and evacuation, and reduces chances of irregular fire-spreads.
Eaves are formed of cement-concrete, and as framed structures of steel and other metals. The framing is covered with a soffit made of materials of poor fire resistance (less than one hour of fire rating), and therefore is ‘susceptible to ignition by embers and hot gases’. Once the eaves catch fire it spreads to the exterior wall and roof.
The eaves of any depth (Chhajja, cornice, cap, ledge) form a small to large, functional or decorative overhang as an architectural entity. Eaves and other architectonic elements like lintels, arches, head formations, floor ends, are all variously fudged to create new vocabularies. FL Wright began to open up the interior spaces with clear glass doors and windows as in Prairie houses, by using the darkened space below the elongated eaves. Taking advantage of the dark formation under roof overhangs, Wright began to negotiate the corners with windows, and broke the box like Victorian architecture of the age. He added bands or elongated windows to add to the horizontal effect of the eaves’ roofs.
According to Japanese mythology a door portal is formed by the Hisashi (usually means eaves), whose character has the meaning ‘a space to see’. It is a connection with the outside. So a door occurs when a horizontal element like the eaves is formed. The essence of a gate comes into being through the eaves. Torii is a metaphoric gate, formed by head bands, the ‘eaves’. The eaves are free floating elements, seemingly have no side supports. The Torii gate has such eaves lines. The Sanchi Stupa Gate also has three emphatic horizontal bands of eaves. The Toran, buntings, streamers, banners, all are forms of the eaves.
The eaves not only protect but mark an ambulatory pathway around a building. The moya, or main room of the shinden, was surrounded by a secondary roofed veranda, or Hisashi. The moya was not partitioned, privacy being secured by low portable screens. The area surrounding the *moya or core of a temple building was a narrow aisle-like area, usually only one bay wide. It can extend around the moya or on one, two or three sides. The floor of the moya and the Hisashi are at the same level throughout. Hisashi may also refer to an unenclosed veranda or corridor protected by either additional eaves underneath the main roof, or by the extension of the eaves of the main roof over the open Hisashi.
Eaves-drop or eaves-drip, is the width of ground around a house or building which receives the rain water dropping from the eaves. Projected eaves have been matters of tenancy-rights disputes between neighbours. An ancient Anglo-Saxon law, a landowner was forbidden to erect any building at less than two feet from the boundary of his land, and was thus prevented from injuring his neighbour’s house or property by the dripping of water from his eaves.
● A proprietor may build as near as he pleases to the confines of his property, provided the eaves drop from his building does not fall on the adjoining property. It is enough, however, that eaves-drop actually falls within the building’s property; and the conterminous proprietor has no right to complain although the water, following the natural inclination of the ground, should afterwards run into his property.
● The Roman law required a proprietor who had no servitude stillicidii to place his building two feet and half within his march.
● In Scotland there is an express statute on the subject; but by custom nine inches, at the least, seem to be necessary for the eaves drop.
-Dictionary of the Law of Scotland, Volume 1 By Robert Bell
Eaves projections and Fires: The building act of 1707 in London and other towns of England banned the projected wooden eaves to prevent spread of fire along the wall and to the roof structure. A 18″ thick parapet was required and the roof edge was set back. The roof was set back little more to provide drainage of rain water. Parapets over the roofs were made taller, shaped, decorated and pierced.