Pergolas, in history and in use today.

Posted by Mitchell Stewart on 2/18/19 9:04 AM
Mitchell Stewart
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Pergolas are a popular addition to any home. They offer a wide range of benefits including adding some desirable appeal, personal design flair and a practical touch to the home. Yet few people understand the importance of a pergola, or the many benefits they can have on the home. In an attempt to change this we've created this article.

Pergolas are one of the oldest styles of outdoor architecture and are still in use today. It is understood that the ancient Egyptian’s used pergolas to grow figs and house vines, while the ancient Chinese used them for sunshade in housing and in temples. After Rome conquered Egypt in 30 BC, the pergola become a prominent feature in Roman architecture. Since then pergolas have been used for various reasons in buildings right across the world.

But what is a pergola, and why has its design been so popular through the ages?

What are pergolas?

Pergolas are an outdoor structure consisting of columns that support a roofing grid of beams and rafters. Pergolas may be freestanding, or they can be attached to the house. The roof can be left open or covered to create shelter from the elements.

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How are pergolas used in building design?

Today, pergolas are included in the design of building for several reasons. The most common being; sunshade, aesthetics or shelter from the elements. The design of the pergola and which material is used will determine how well the pergola delivers these benefits to the occupants of the building. The most common materials used in today’s buildings are timber, aluminium or steel.

"Add a pergola to your garden to maximise the usage of your outdoor living space and make your garden more attractive and versatile. You just can't go wring with a wonderful pergola." - Outdoor Living Today

The traditional pergola is made from timber. In a simple pergola structure, timber has been the preferred material due to cost advantages. The disadvantages in using timber include significant labour requirements in the construction and ongoing maintenance including painting or staining. When using timber to provide complete shelter from the elements, the pergola is normally an extension of the house roofline and is roofed and lined to provide complete shelter.


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Why you should use aluminium for pergolas

Aluminium is becoming very popular as a material for pergolas for several reasons including;

  • low maintenance,
  • excellent versatility
  • labour requirements in construction.

The clean lines from extruded aluminium and the large range of colours available make aluminium pergolas a striking architectural feature with strong aesthetic value. The colour is often matched to the window joinery making the pergola blend perfectly with the overall building colour scheme. To achieve complete shelter, aluminium opening louvre roofs can be used. The louvre blades can rotate with the rotating action either motorised or manually operable. When the louvre blades are closed, rain runs off the louvre blades and into an internal gutter system enabling the building occupants to enjoy outdoor dining even when the sky decides to precipitate. The beauty of opening louvre roofs is when the sun shines, they can be opened to let it in giving you complete versatility with your outdoor living.


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Overall, while pergolas have been used in architecture for thousands of years, they have come a long way over time. Today’s pergolas are versatile and add significant value to modern architecture. If you are wanting sunshade, protection from the elements over your outdoor living area or a sharp aesthetic feature then pergolas are worth considering.

Looking for more inspiration on pergolas and other architectural features? Download our free style guide by clicking the button below.


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Topics: Pergola