It would be interesting to try to understand how awnings came to be. This functional structure surprisingly has a long history to go back to.
By definition an awning or overhang is a subordinate covering attached to the peripheral wall of a building. Characteristically, it is composed of canvas woven of acrylic, cotton or polyester yarn, or vinyl laminated to polyester fabric that is stretched tightly over a light structure of aluminium, iron or steel, possibly wood or transparent material.
The outline of this structure is something of a space or planar frame.
Awnings are typically located above a window, a door, or above the area along a pavement. It is able to extend further from a building and becomes a canopy with the toting of columns; such is the case of hotel entrances. One may also find awnings in restaurants as cover to substantial outdoor area for outdoor dining, gatherings, or function. In commercial buildings, an awning is frequently treated with information as to the name, business, and address, thus serving as a billboard as well as providing shade as a windbreaker and protection from rain or snow.
The history of awnings dates back from the ancient Egyptian and Syrian civilizations. They were the first societies to ever use awnings. Back in time, they were dubbed as “woven mats” that dappled market stands and homes. Lucretius, a Roman poet said in 50 BC,
“Linen-awning, stretched, over mighty theatres, gives forth at times, a cracking roar, when much ’tis beaten about, betwixt the poles and cross-beams”.
Among the most noteworthy awnings in the ancient world was the velarium. The velarium was made of saddlecloth, timber framing, iron sockets and rope. The whole structure could efficiently cover about a quarter of the stadium and seating the high surrounding walls is also capable of shading another third part of it.
The first half of the 19th century catapulted awnings to even greater popularity. During that time, awnings consisted of timber or cast iron poles placed end to end on sidewalks and connected by a front cross bar. To advance backing to larger fittings, angled beams interconnected the front cross bar to the façade of the building. The higher end of the canvas was connected to the facade with nails and hooks. They may also be connected by a head rod bolted to the facade. The other end was swathed over to a front bar with the edge often hanging down to form a drapery. On elaborate patterns, metal posts were decorated with latticework and the tops decorated with spear ends, balls or other trappings. When rain did not threaten or on cloudy days, the covering was often rolled up against the building facade; during the winter months appropriate care becomes necessary for the abstraction and tidying away of awnings. Once can typically find photographs of bare framework during the 19th century, signifying that the covering was protracted only when required. Canvas duck was the major awning fabric. It is described as a robust, narrowly woven cotton cloth used for centuries to make tents and sails.
Awnings became a common feature in the years after the Civil War.
A natural material for awning frames was iron plumbing pipes. They became quickly recognized as a result of mid-century industrialisation.
Just like all exterior building features exposed to elements such as snow, rain, sunlight, wind, and pollution, awnings need attention. Even when made with modern materials, they necessitate preservation, renovation, and in due course replacement. Awnings time and again are the first feature to be rehabilitated when historic structures change owners or uses. They often have a substantial role in underwriting to the historic character of a structure. Thus, it goes without saying that proprietors, engineers and historians, contemplate this when commencing work on a building with intrinsic value.