What Is Rear Elevation In Architecture

Rear elevation in architecture refers to the view from behind a building or structure. It provides insight into a structure’s depth, height, and shape, as well as its foundation details, roof design, and other features. Beyond aesthetic interests, this view gives architects and designers a three-dimensional look at how these elements fit together to create the overall design. For the average observer, the rear side of a building can offer a glimpse into its functionality.

The term “rear elevation” was first used in the mid-19th century when architectural photography started to emerge as a primary medium for documenting buildings. As cameras slowly moved to the backside of structures, the photographers naturally described the view as being a “rear elevation.” It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the term came into more common use to refer to the back portion of a building.

Today, rear elevations play an important role in architectural practice. Many architects create a rear elevation drawing to accompany their primary drawings. This sketch provides a better understanding of the space that a structure will occupy and the exact angles of windows, doorways, and other components. It also gives designers a better idea of the design’s overall balance and proportion.

In addition to its use in architecture and design, rear elevation has also become a powerful tool for engineers and contractors. Because of its enhanced perspective and detail, this view helps with construction and retrofitting. Employees working on the job are able to use rear elevation drawings as detailed guides, which helps them to craft a structure with precision and accuracy. It’s also beneficial to homeowners, as they can get a better sense of the look and feel of a structure from this point of view.

What’s more, rear elevations can play a role in zoning and zoning applications. This view helps to provide a clearer picture of the structure’s massing and the way that it interacts with its surroundings. Zoning inspectors may look closely at this view to ensure that a structure meets city codes and standards.

In summary, rear elevation in architecture is a valuable resource for both professionals and amateurs of building and design alike. It offers a detailed, three-dimensional look at a structure’s layout and helps with creating a balanced and beautiful design. It also plays an important role in construction and zoning applications, meaning it’s an essential part of any project.

Benefits of Rear Elevation

By providing a clear, detailed look at a building’s design, rear elevations can help bring a structure to life and add value to a property. These additional views can help property buyers and real estate investors understand a building’s layout and get a better feel for its overall look and feel.

Rear elevations can also be used to reveal a site’s potential for landscaping or for construction additions. By looking closely at the backside of a structure, homeowners and contractors can start to develop ideas for landscape design and can identify potential obstacles or advantages ahead of time.

Ultimately, rear elevation is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in a building’s form and structure. The view provides an excellent opportunity to look past a building’s visual appeal and better understand how it fits into its environment and how it has been constructed.

Design for Rear Elevation

When designing for rear elevations, architects and designers should keep the back of the structure in mind. While the front of a building might be designed to stand out and garner attention, the rear side should seek balance and uniformity. Therefore, architects often opt for simple, muted designs that are similar in style to the front facade.

Additionally, designers should think of the rear elevation as its own individual canvas. While color can be added to the rear facade, as with any other part of a structure, architects should also consider the use of texture and materials to help create depth and interest. Reclaimed wood, for example, can help to create interesting patterning.

When designing for rear elevation, designers should also think about incorporating outdoor living space. Many houses today feature outdoor patios, decks, and other features that provide additional living space and bring life to the exterior. While it might not be as noticeable as the front facade, the back of a structure still requires careful consideration and design elements.

Finally, architects should also consider functional elements such as lighting, air conditioning, and other features that can be added. While these features will likely be more visible than the visuals, they can still add beauty and value to the design.

Location of Rear Elevation

The location of a structure’s rear elevation can be an important consideration for architects, designers, and homeowners alike. Architecturally speaking, it may be best to have the rear facade facing a less densely populated area or away from public view. This can help to create privacy while keeping the aesthetics of the building in check.

Additionally, homeowners may want to think about the orientation of their structure’s rear elevation in relation to the sun and the seasons. This can be especially important for those living in colder climates, where minimizing the amount of sunlight entering a structure can help to lower cooling costs.

Finally, it may be beneficial to orient the rear elevation to take advantage of the prevailing wind or to facilitate drainage or irrigation. In cities, where space can be at a premium, it’s important to consider these factors before construction starts.

Finishes for Rear Elevation

In addition to their design and location, the finishes used for a structure’s rear elevation can be just as important as its design. For one, it can be beneficial to use materials that are more resistant to the elements and aging, such as mild steel. This can help to keep a structure looking good for years to come and can help to protect it from rain, snow, and other elements.

Designers should also think about the types of finishes that will be used for the rear facade, such as bricks, stonework, and other materials. These finishes can characterize the building’s form and provide more texture and interest to its backside. Architects should also consider painting or coating these finishes to help them blend in with their surroundings and to better match the front facade.

Ultimately, the finishes used for a structure’s rear elevation will play a major role in how it is perceived. And while it may be less visible than its front elevation, the rear of a building can still be just as important.

Energy Efficiency of Rear Elevation

For homeowners and designers alike, the rear elevation of a structure can play a major role in energy efficiency. Utilizing materials such as insulation and window coverings can help to keep a structure’s temperature regulated and to keep energy costs low. Additionally, architects should think about the number of windows and other openings that can be used to allow natural light into the structure.

Designers can also look to the rear facade as an opportunity to utilize solar energy. Incorporating solar panels or solar shingles on the rear elevation can help to capture the sun’s rays and convert them into usable electricity. While this option may not be suitable for all regions, it can be an effective way for homeowners to save energy and lower their energy bills.

Finally, rear elevation can play an important role in passive cooling strategies. Strategically placed air vents can help to draw cool air in while allowing hot air to escape, helping to keep the inside of a structure at a comfortable temperature. This can be especially useful in hot, humid climates where appropriate cooling strategies are essential.

Constructions Possibilities of Rear Elevation

Aside from energy efficiency, there are also many construction possibilities to explore when considering rear elevation. For one, there are a number of materials and techniques that can be used to build a more durable and weather-resistant back facade. Additionally, architects can look to this area to add extra living space or to incorporate design elements for balconies, terraces, and roof decks.

For contractors, the rear elevation can serve as an opportunity to add a variety of functional elements. Everything from sprinklers, sheds, and garages can be constructed on the rear side of a structure, freeing up more space in the front yard. And don’t forget about extra features like trellis, awnings, and other elements.

Finally, the rear elevation can also be an opportunity to increase a structure’s value. By adding landscaping and other design elements, homeowners and contractors can improve the structure’s aesthetic appeal and bring more value to the property.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

Leave a Comment