Hall

In architecture, a hall is a relatively large space enclosed by a roof and walls. In the Iron Age and early Middle Ages in northern Europe, a mead hall was where a lord and his retainers ate and also slept. Later in the Middle Ages, the great hall was the largest room in castles and large houses, and where the servants usually slept. As more complex house plans developed, the hall remained a large room for dancing and large feasts, often still with servants sleeping there. It was usually immediately inside the main door. In modern British houses, an entrance hall next to the front door remains an indispensable feature, even if it is essentially merely a corridor.

In warmer climates the houses of the wealthy were often built around a courtyard, but in northern areas manors were built around a great hall. The hall was home to the hearth, and was where all the residents of the house would eat, work, and sleep. One common example of this form is the longhouse. Only particularly messy tasks would be done in separate rooms on the periphery of the hall. Still today the term hall is often used to designate a country house such as a hall house, or specifically a Wealden hall house, and manor houses.

In later medieval Europe, the main room of a castle or manor house was the great hall. In a medieval building, the hall was where the fire was kept. As heating technology improved and a desire for privacy grew, tasks moved from the hall to other rooms. First the master of the house withdrew to private bedrooms and eating areas. Over time servants and children also moved to their own areas, while work projects were also given their own chambers leaving the hall for special functions. With time, its functions as dormitory, kitchen, parlour and so on were divided off to separate rooms or, in the case of the kitchen, a separate building.

Until the early modern era that majority of the population lived in houses with a single room. In the 17th century even lower classes began to have a second room, with the main chamber being the hall and the secondary room the parlor. The hall and parlor house was found in England and was a fundamental, historical floor plan in parts of the United States from 1620 to 1860.

At colleges in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the term "Hall" is also used for the dining hall for students, with High Table at one end for fellows. Typically, at "Formal Hall", gowns are worn for dinner during the evening, whereas for "informal Hall" they are not. The medieval collegiate dining hall, with a dais for the high table at the upper end and a screen passage at the lower end, is a modified or assimilated form of the Great hall.

A hall is also a building consisting largely of a principal room, that is rented out for meetings and social affairs. It may be privately or government-owned, such as a function hall owned by one company used for weddings and cotillions (organized and run by the same company on a contractual basis) or a community hall available for rent to anyone, such as a British village hall.

In religious architecture, as in Islamic architecture, the prayer hall is a large room dedicated to the practice of the worship. (example : the prayer hall of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia). A hall church is a church with nave and side aisles of approximately equal height. Many churches have an associated church hall used for meetings and other events.

Following a line of similar development, in office buildings and larger buildings (theatres, cinemas etc.), the entrance hall is generally known as the foyer (the French for fireplace). The atrium, a name sometimes used in public buildings for the entrance hall, was the central courtyard of a Roman house.

 

 


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