5 builds with internal courtyard gardens

Clever ways to blend indoors with out while adding natural light

By Anna Winston | 24 June 2020

These courtyard garden ideas bring natural light and a connection to the outdoors right into the centre of a house. Thoughtful material choices combined with innovative design allow courtyards to function as an active space within the building. They provide clever solutions for the trickiest urban plots and open up generous countryside villas with lush planting that echoes the surrounding landscape.

An indoor courtyard is an interesting solution to consider. Not only does it offer a well of natural light, it offers an opportunity to enjoy outside space, improve ventilation and introduce natural elements that promote biophilic design within your home. Take a look at these five courtyard garden ideas.

1. Sloping site, Belgium

It took Studio Okami two years to convince the local authority to allow them to build a house that didn’t comply with the strict rules usually applied to rural sites in Mont-de-l’Enclus, Belgium. The regulations required a sloping roof and specific window sizes, neither of which feature in this contemporary brick home. The owners wanted a design that would maximise their views of the surrounding nature, with room to host their two grown-up children for visits.

In the end, the officials were convinced by the two-bedroom single-storey design, which is tucked into a slope and has a flat, green roof that makes it almost invisible from the rear. A potential pitfall of building into the ground is the lack of light at the back of the house, but the 273 square metre single-storey home features a central courtyard that helps air and light penetrate throughout and gives every space a green view.

indoor courtyard garden ideas: a courtyard built into a sloping site

Photo: Filip Dujardin

2. End-of-terrace, London

The Red House project by 31/44 Architects tackled an unusually shaped end-of-terrace plot dictated by a kink in the road and the angled flank of the house next door. The architects saw it as an opportunity to draw light and ventilation into the low-level living spaces with a series of small glazed courtyards. They also offer a way to demarcate these spaces for function, without losing the openness and brightness of the space, forging a pathway throughout the space.

The architects have also used the internal courtyard garden to connect the minimalist interior of the home to the red brick facade, the defining character of this build that gives the house its moniker.

courtyard garden ideas - indoor courtyard in the kitchen

Photo: Rory Gardiner