Good Compositions: Personal Courtyard Houses and Light

The arrangement of a home can be a solid impact on the landscape . Formal houses like center-hall colonials seem as strong singular objects in the landscape to be viewed from its approach, while informal, site-specific houses can be utilized to specify and give shape to the landscape.

Going beyond the intentions of the L-shaped plan and also the practical needs of the dogtrot plan, the courtyard home provides strongly delineated advantages to almost contain the outside space. The main difference between them is the design layout frequently sets up a visual axis of sight to a focal point, along with the arrangement of the plan allows maximum solitude of the outside space.

Typically, the principle rooms are arranged around a central courtyard with sun, air and light flow permeating through either side of every room. A definite separation of living and sleeping area can be achieved while allowing all rooms direct access to the same outdoor area.

In the usa, houses like this were found in the Southern and Southwestern areas as a direct response to the climate before electricity and air conditioning, while in the cooler North somewhat more streamlined cubic form was appropriate to decrease vulnerability to wind and also to maintain warmth in the core of the house. Nowadays, these structures continue to be the very sustainable design strategy for their areas.

Ownby Design

In this Arizona home, a reflecting pool in the courtyard along with a strong axis through the living space sets up a formal decoration. Vertical plantings, columns, and exposed rafter tails under the roof produce rhythm and add human scale to the space.

At a desert climate, using a reflecting pool in the courtyard has an evaporative cooling influence on the microclimate of a house. The solid mass of stucco masonry walls provides thermal storage for heat during the day and releases it back into the atmosphere at night.

Dick Clark + Associates

At a house on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, two wings are connected with a very long open breezeway. Again, the swimming occupies the courtyard, along with a visual axis direct the eye out to some grove of beautiful live oaks, which themselves help finish the overall makeup. I am particularly attracted to the manner asymmetry can be used here to great effect, while the parts of the composition create equilibrium.

There are some very clever design moves : Placing the angled wooden sofa chairs along solid, hard-edged stone walls makes amazing contrast, and the columns supporting the shield at the terrace beyond extend the punctuating effect of the tree trunks. The spacious, recessed, covered loggia on the left side is mirrored with its opposite: solid stone walls. And notice how the sky and earth are merged from the pool, which makes every wing of the home seem to float in space, but”bridged” under the pine canopy.

Summerour Architects

This courtyard isn’t so much a contained space but designed as an architectural folly, seeming as destroys in a classic Southern Lowcountry garden adjacent to the home.

However, I like the axis of the fountain centered on the arched opening to the yard, and the contrast between white stucco and sinuous live oaks. The plan sets up a nice sequence of spaces meant to integrate the home with nature.

Carson Poetzl, Inc..

Here’s a fantastic illustration of a courtyard jump on all sides by walls. The gate acts as the front entrance of the house, where the very first room one enters is outside. It was common in Spanish-influenced houses to secure the outer walls of the hacienda chemical, as the real entry was discovered further within.

AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc..

The noise of rhythm and water of plantings and fountains border a path through a fundamental tall entry pavilion. The courtyard is intentionally set up as a place of movement, rather than static job.

Arcanum Architecture

Informal, and asymmetrical, the courtyard of this house is for casual evenings with friends and loved ones. The full-height sliding glass walls could be completely opened for covered outdoor area. The monochromatic colour tones of the architectural components allow the furnishings to function as accent color. There’s not any strong axis or formality in any way, and unlike the previous residence, the fireplace here is not the primary focus, but functions as a place to warm the hands and maybe make s’mores with the kids!

Notice how rills of smooth dark grey river stone are utilized to divide the concrete terrace into smaller areas with lines extending from the geometry of the home. This can be a small but well considered gesture from the programmer to add suggested zones for every activity area.

Ana Williamson Architect

Sometimes the courtyard is as straightforward as a gravel covered yard designed only to bring light and atmosphere to every room. This outdoor area does not seem to be a destination or location to gather.

Urban Landscape

There’s perhaps no greater way to terminate an axis than in an outside fireplace. The symmetry is further strengthened with double urns and double couches, and also the tall trees outside are almost twins. The outside walls here are softened by lush plantings and ground cover. A stepped perimeter curb sets aside the perfectly flat stone paved terrace. A space in this way is designed for respite and escape from the outside world, and all significant areas of the house have access to it.

Urban Landscape

The addition of overhead beams define and include the outside room of this courtyard home. The placement of different components are very similar to the previous image.

Koch Architects, Inc.. Joanne Koch

Courtyards are nearly always paved in stone or gravel, but this one uses interlocking wood deck pavers. Utilizing wood rather than stone is appropriate to the scale of a courtyard jumped by one-story walls. Like the introductory image, the living area is centrally located and opens to the landscape, but the overall composition is informal for this home.

The courtyard house plan incorporates the use and connection of the exterior together with all the functions of the interior, and allows air and light flow to all primary interior spaces as the home itself creates the landscape.

More: The L-Shaped House Plan
The Dogtrot House Plan
Living La Vida Linear
The U-Shaped House

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