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In architecture and city planning, a terrace(d) or row house or townhouse (though the latter term can also refer to patio houses) is a style of housing in use since the late 17th century, where a row of identical or mirror-image houses share side walls. The first and last of these houses is called an end terrace, usually larger than those houses in the middle.


The term terrace was borrowed from garden terraces by English 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". The "row", as in the sixteenth century "Yarmouth Rows" in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was a designation for a narrow street where the building fronts uniformly ran right to the property line.

In England, 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, but Paris had led the way in the Place des Vosges (1605 – 1612). In Parisian squares, central blocks were given discreet prominence, to relieve the façade, but 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).

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 richest people in the country owned terraced houses in locations such as Belgrave Square and Carlton House Terrace.

Victorian periodEdit

By the early Victorian period, a terrace had come to designate any style of housing where individual houses repeating one design are conjoined into rows either long or short. 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 UK, 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 neighboring pair, to offer variety within the standardized format. Terraces usually have a yard with coal house and Privey (toilet), with the yards backing onto a Alley way, usually wide enough for a small cart to deliver coal and remove the waste (rubbish). The original Victorian terraces did not have Bathrooms in the house Or electricity. Heating was by coal fires and a range for cooking and heating hot water inthe kitchen. Better areas had gas lighting installed.

Post-World War IIEdit

Post-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 inner city areas could theoretically be distributed further to create greater accessibility, employment or recreational or leisure centres. However botched implementation meant in many areas (like Manchester or the London estates) the effects of wind channelling and poor follow up development led to the tower blocks offering no real improvement for rehoused residents over their prior terraced houses.


In the 70's people started to modernise terraces by installing Indoor toilets and bathrooms often built on the back of the offshot Kitchen, as space upstairs was limited. The fitting of Gas central heating also became more popular as natural gas spread. In some areas schemes to modernise whole districts were carried out. But today large areas of un modernised terraces still exist. These usually being in the poorest districts.

In the UK terraced industrial district housing has enjoyed huge price rises since around 2001, with prices in most areas (outside London) having more than tripled by mid-2005. In affluent areas terraced houses are often called 'townhouses'. In the 1960s and 1970s areas of affordable terraced housing were often quickly colonised by artists, gay men and young professionals, this being the early stages of the gentrification that happened in parts of many British cities. Other areas became rundown as landlords failed to maintain properties or upgrade them. In university cities, they became popular for Students, with front room converted to another bedroom.

21st centuryEdit

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 terrace house proved almost £1,000 per 100 m2 cheaper to maintain and inhabit on average each year."

The rise in prises ha s fuelled a wave of buying of un-modernised or tired terraces by amateur developers or young people looking for a cheap property and to make money. Often gutting them and fitting double glazing, new central heating, full rewire as often old electrics had just being poorly installed. Building new 2 storey extensions in place of the Kitchen (often larger) to build an upstairs bathroom, and new Kitchen open to the dinning room on the ground floor. The loft is also converted to get a 3rd bedroom. The old coal house and outhouse being demolished. Damp can be a problem due to a lot being built with solid walls, then the floors rot.

The size of terraces can vary considerably, the smallest being about 3m wide, with the largest 7m+. Some having 3 bedrooms. Generally 2 storey but in hilly areas they may be 3½ storey with ½ basement and room in the roof. In the better areas Bay windows were fitted and front gardens from 1m up to 10m+ in more prosperous areas were built for sale.

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