It is external to the walls of the main building proper, but may be enclosed by screen, latticework, broad windows, or other light frame walls extending from the main structure. There are various styles of porches, all of which depend on the architectural tradition of its location. All porches will allow for sufficient space for a person to comfortably pause before entering or after exiting the building. However, they may be larger. Verandahs, for example, are usually quite large and may encompass the entire facade as well as the sides of a structure. At the other extreme, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan has the longest porch in the world at some 660 feet in length.
In Britain and New England the porch is typically a small vestibule where wet/muddy clothing can be removed before entering the main house. This is often called a mudroom in New England. In the western United States US, ranch style homes often use a covered porch to provide shade for the entrance and southern wall of the residence. In the southern United States and Southern Ontario, Canada, a porch is often as broad as it is deep, and may provide sufficient space for residents to entertain guests or gather on special occasions. However, many American homes built since the 1940s with a porch only have a token one, too small for comfortable social use and adding only to the visual impression of the building. The New Urbanism movement in architecture urges a reversal in this trend, recommending a large porch facing the street, to help build community ties.
When covered, a porch not only provides protection from sun or rain but may also form, in effect, an extra exterior room that may accommodate chairs, tables and other furniture, to be used as living space. Screens are often used in some areas to exclude flying insects.
Porches typically are architecturally unified with the rest of the house, using similar design elements as the rest of the structure, and may be integrated into the roofline or upper stories.
In India a porch is an important part of Hindu temple architecture. Porches and verandahs are popular elements of homes as well.
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