Also characteristic of the ranch style are open floor plans which permit rooms to serve multiple purposes. Ranch style houses frequently include separate family, living, and dining areas which can be converted as needed into entertaining or hobby areas, or into extra bedrooms when required. Although a single level ranch house plan with front porch or patio is the norm, there are also split level ranch houses and raised ranch houses which have more than one level of space.
There was a time, quite recently in fact, when the most important attributes of buildings were their aesthetic qualities, fitness for the intended purpose, and structural integrity. However sustainability objectives - paying closer attention to the soundness of the architecture from the perspective of the environment - are quickly becoming the overriding factors in contemporary home plans.
Aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, and it depends upon the prevailing tastes of the time. A building's functionality, or fitness, is a matter of how well it accommodates the purposes for which it was built. Its structural integrity means soundness - will the building last over time? Historically speaking aesthetics has usually trumped fitness as the overriding factor in architectural design. Classical architecture was preoccupied with articulating features on walls and facades. Modern architecture is equally concerned with aesthetic formalities, such as form following function.
Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.
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