A courtyard offers a way to bring in natural light and a connection to the outdoors, even in the centre of your home. These 4 properties offer a glimpse into some of the possibilities. 

 Red House 2197 Rory Gardiner PRESSIMAGE 5

Image: Rory Gardiner 

While many modern builds focus on large glazed doors at the rear of the property, and introducing natural light throughout with roof lights, in the furthest depths of your home, you can feel a little disconnected from this relationship between interior and exterior. 

A 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. 

These 4 properties have all employed courtyard gardens in different ways, from the decorative to the functional, to inspire your self-build or renovation project. 

Additional words: Hugh Metcalf

Red House, 31/44 Architects 

house within interior courtyard looking onto kitchen - grand designs

Image: Rory Gardiner 

As it sat at the end of the terrace, the site of this project by 31/44 Architects offered an unusually shaped plot to play with 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 courtyard 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. 

Read more: 4 self-build houses on awkward plots

Victoria Park, ZCD Architects 

 london renovation house with interior courtyard - grand designs

Image: Charles Hosea 

A sunken garden and an internal courtyard create connections through the interior of this maisonette, occupying the lower two levels of a four-storey Victorian house in Victoria Park, London. ZCD Architects replaced an extension to squeeze out space for a third bedroom at ground level and expanded living space at basement level, excavating the garden. White-stained larch clads the walls to help bounce light down into the basement and pale gravel reflects the light upwards. The softness of the wood is contrasted with the board-marked concrete also used in the garden, which includes small areas of planting. A wall of folding doors framed in black open up in warmer weather.

Long House, bureau de change 

long house bureau de change

Image: Gilbert McCarragher

Built for an artist, Long House pays homage to its countryside location near Cirencester in the Cotswolds in its design and material choices. Taking a pair of chicken sheds as a starting point, architect Bureau de Change created two large, staggered barn-like wings, giving a 500 square metre home with an art studio and four bedrooms. In the middle of the area where the two structures are joined, the architect has included an outdoor space, using this as a focal point for the internal layout. The courtyard contains a single tree and provides long views through the house.

Read more: Glazing: how to add natural light to your home

Prefabricated courtyard house, Mitzman Architects 

 kitchen next to interior courtyard - grand designs self build

Image: Richard Chivers 

Mitzman Architects took on the task of replacing a dilapidated post-war house on a tricky site in Islington, London, with a brief to preserve the building’s spacious garden and its large trees while creating a contemporary and sustainable five-bedroom home that was more sympathetic to the local conservation area and adjacent listed building.

A central courtyard is surrounded by glazing to bring light into the middle of the house and prevent any of the spaces from feeling closed in, despite the unusual, irregular shape of the building. Sliding doors can be opened up in summer, playing a key part in the natural cooling strategy. Most of the heavily insulated and airtight home was prefabricated, which allowed the timber structure, walls, floor slabs and roof to be assembled on-site in just two weeks. Brick was selected for the cladding, with the idea that it would be low-maintenance and age naturally over time to echo the surrounding buildings.


Which of these projects is your favourite? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page



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