|Alfred Hitchcock's film "Rear Window"|
played upon the lack of privacy
endemic to city life.
Sadly, though, lack of privacy isn’t limited to urban America anymore. Nowadays, even suburban homes are shoehorned onto tight lots with just a sliver of space between them. The privacy issue has come home to the heartland.
|Typical Islamic streetscape (this is in|
Hama, Syria) emphasizes privacy
and the sanctity of the home.
So dear was privacy in these parts that an ordinance in one village declared: “Anyone may, if necessary, climb up his date palm, provided he previously informs the neighbor into whose house he might obtain a view.”
Traditional Asian houses also placed a high value on privacy, with many ordinary homes being hidden behind tall walls relieved only by a pair of gates leading into a courtyard. Here, as in Islamic architecture, there’s no reluctance whatever to have minimal openings facing the street.
|Planting can make an excellent privacy screen; here|
it extends the height of a wall without violating
the local height limit on property line fencing.
Other than starting from scratch, what can be done to enhance the privacy of Western houses?
|A simple but ingenious privacy screen with a window. When|
overgrown with vines, this structure will provide a lovely
and enticing garden backdrop.
• If you’re stuck with what you have, consider some traditional ways of increasing privacy. Walls or screens built on the ground some distance away, or decorative grilles or louvers placed directly in front of windows, are both simple and effective devices. Be careful to use a design that complements the style of your house, however—perhaps a traditional turned wood grille for a Spanish Revival home, or a pierced metal screen for a Modernist one. Even leaded or patterned window glass will create a psychological buffer against unwelcome observers.