As the Census Bureau reported in June, 63 percent of new single-family homes completed last year had this once-again-trendy feature, up from 42 percent in 1993. So what’s the cause of this major upswing? Well, as Robert Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, revealed to the Wall Street Journal, the return of the porch is reflective of a desire for social connection. And as “a place between the privacy of the house and the public world of the street,” it’s perfect for just that.
See the official Census data here – the porch is up as well as the patio while decks have decreased.
But, the real question is whether this increase in porches is related to an increased use of porches. The quote above from Stern is paraphrased as “reflective of a desire for social connection” but not necessarily an actual uptick in that. This gets at an issue at the heart of some critiques of New Urbanism and other attempts at neo-traditional architecture: does building a porch change social behavior? Indeed, what if having a porch of the front of the house is more related to what is perceived as features that increase a home’s value?
All together, these new porches may be much more aspirational and about financial return than utilized for socializing. We’ve all heard the story that people in the not-too-distant past used to sit on the porch all the time but, unfortunately, I’m not aware of any data sources that consistently measure this in the American population at large…