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Courtyards Are Awesome


Janice Marie Nyman Architect PLLC

Comparing the costs and benefits of a residential courtyard home to a rectangular home

As an Arborist an Architect and Alaskan, and with a great passion for nature,  I am always looking to integrate landscape design into the overall planning of a home. I know many Guild members feel the same way, in our stretch towards sustainable living.  As a renewed guild member I’d be happy to give you my thoughts, about what plants may work best in your designs. Following is a study I’ve put together to create interest in…..

The Courtyard

A courtyard can create a lush, vibrant, healthful, growing and socially complex building structure!

A consolidated rectangular or circular shape has long been the most economical building structure one can construct.  Exterior wall area is minimized as compared to a building with many projections, bay windows, or staggered walls.  It also an utilize less energy as there are less wall surfaces and joints for air leaks or heat transfer to occur.

Still, there is something incredibly romantic and sensual about a courtyard house.  It utilizes many turns in its walls to envelope a garden.  The garden is not a public area and one feels protected and secreted in this verdant space.  In order for the design to be successful the courtyard garden needs to be the right size to allow sufficient light, and needs to be cared-for and beautiful year round.

Within the courtyard house is a sense of privacy: Because it circles an exterior space, and the rooms at each end have greater acoustic separation, occupants in a courtyard home may enjoy more peaceful rest.

Shown here are two small and flexible shared homes, both 995 square feet in area.  The wall surface required for the courtyard home is 183 LF, and the rectangular home is 135 LF.  When challenged by noise and privacy issues associated with urban living or shared housing, the benefits of a courtyard home may outweigh costs of additional wall surface.  It will require some careful thought, but we may be able to design the added wall surface so that it is beneficial to energy conservation.


Karrinyup Courtyard by Cultivart Landscape Design


Archiflora study: Plan comparison
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