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Port Cocheres (Portico)

When I first became involved with Archival Designs, there were several house plan terms I had never come across before. I thought it might be of interest to some to describe some of these terms.

Wikipedia defines a port cochere as a coach gate, also called a carriage porch. It is the architectural term for a porch or portico like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building through which a horse and carriage (or motor vehicle) can pass in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather.

The porte cochere was a feature of many late 18th and 19th century mansions and public buildings. Well known examples are at Buckingham Palace in London and the White House in Washington D.C. Today a porte cochere is often constructed at the entrance to public buildings such as churches, hotels, health facilities, homes, and schools where people are delivered by other drivers. Porte cocheres should not be confused with carports in which vehicles are parked; at a porte cochere the vehicle merely passes through, stopping only for passengers to alight.

At the foot of the porte cochere there are often a couple of guard stones to prevent the wheels of the vehicle from damaging the wall.

Examples of these can be found in the starter castle house plans Chateau Novella, the Eisenhower, Chateau De La Ravinere, Chesterfield II, Vincentino, Chateau de Villesarin, and the Breakers, just to name a few.


According to Wikipedia, courtyards are private open spaces surrounded by walls or buildings and have been in use in residential architecture for almost as long as people have lived in constructed dwellings. The earliest known courtyard houses were built in Iran and China and date as far back as 3000 BC. Courtyards have historically been used for many purposes including cooking, sleeping, working, playing, gardening, and even places to keep animals.

Before courtyards, open fires were kept burning in a central place within a home, with only a small hole in the ceiling overhead to allow smoke to escape. Over time, these small openings were enlarged and eventually led to the development of the centralized open courtyard we know today. Courtyard homes have been designed and built throughout the world with many variations in every century.

Courtyard homes are perhaps more prevalent in temperate climates, as an open central court can be an important aid to cooling house in warm weather. However, courtyard houses have been found in harsher climates as well for centuries. The comforts offered by a courtyard

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  • Joanne Loftus
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