Contemporary Uses for Arches and Pergolas

Discover why today's arches and pergolas are no more than a new look at an old type of structure.

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Bold Color of Pergola Highlights Artistic InterestEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Today's arches and pergolas are closely linked to earlier constructions, but, other than to provide shade, their function tends to be purely ornamental. Grapevines are still grown over these structures, as are other climbers, also chosen for their fragrance and color. Traditional structures remain desirable in many settings, although the cost and time to build them are major commitments.

Arches as Sight Lines

Although arches maintain their traditional use over an entrance or an opening, their far more important functions in contemporary design have become to frame a view or to form an opening into another part of the garden. Arches are now most often built as freestanding "viewing panels" or "windows" through which to catch glimpses of other areas within the garden. This technique has been used successfully with wooden frame archways, sometimes further enhanced with a trellis and even stained glass panels, offering both clear views and tinted images.

Modern Arbors

These days the term arbor applies to the construction of a shaded alcove offering a cool retreat. Arbors are usually formed from a pergola construction, with either slatted lumber or trellising on three sides.

Manufacturers of garden structures have been quick to take up the popular trend for nostalgia, so you may find that even contemporary arbors are modeled on old designs: Victorian, for example. Many are grand affairs, sited to command a view over the garden and surrounding area or set as a focal point to attract the eye and form a welcome shaded seat.

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Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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