The Willow House is an incredible open and airy home taking advantage of it’s surrounding natural environment, designed by Guz Architects in Singapore. Completed in late 2012 for a young family, the home features an open floor plan that integrates koi ponds, swimming pools, shallow reflecting pools and a central courtyard with an oculus that allows a tree to grow from the ground floor through to the green roof.
The architects tried to take advantage of the hilltop position by opening up the building plan to make the most of the prevailing breezes and of what little wind there is in Singapore. Orientation and massing of the house was instrumental in encouraging those breezes.
We always wanted this to be a home with soul, so designing spaces where a family could live together and interact was always part of the brief, and hopefully the design reflects this. We have tried to draw nature in as much as we can in the relatively dense urban environment of Singapore.
Photos: Patrick Bingham Hall
Casa 2V is a sensational modern property that has been completed in 2010 by Ecuadorian architecture studio Diez + Muller Arquitectos, located in Tumbaco, Ecuador. The house is located on a rectangular area with a slight slope in an east west direction. The land does not have much to offer but the house faces mountain views on the south side and the valley on the west side of Tumbaco. The house has been organized on three main ideas:
Program Independence: The house is broken into three main volumes containing three aspects of the program (social, private and views) respectively. These three are connected by two articulations or glazed bridges that are joined by more than three components, generating slides along the house.
Central Courtyard: The three volumes of the house are composed of a central courtyard surrounded by an internal gallery that serves the various program components.
Orientation and Views: The circulation inside the courtyard allow all environments to project their views to either the mountains or the valley of Tumbaco, these being the most permeable walls of the house.
The house is located on one floor, just having a studio and an elevated deck and gazebo on the social area. This generates a double height space and white glass volume, which rests on the ground floor of the house that is armed in stone.
Photos: Sebastián Crespo
A modern home built for outdoor living, Villa Escarpa was the vision of architecture studio Mario Martins, located near the village of Praia da Luz, in the district of Lagos, Algarve, in the South of Portugal. A condition of the planning permission was that the new house be constructed in the space occupied by a previous building. This had little architectural or technical merit, but was located in an exceptional position on an escarpment overlooking the Algarve coastline and village of Praia da Luz.
The footprint was therefore predetermined; on a very steep slope, and exposed to the prevailing winds. Paradoxically, it is these constraints and difficulties that underpin the conceptional basis of the project.
In an architectural language, pure and contemporary, we created sheltered terraces and courtyards for outside living. These are cut from the horizontal volume which is white and highly transparent. This volume gently sits upon an exposed concrete support giving the appearance of the house floating above the landscape. The touch on the environment, which we want to preserve, is minimized and resolves the difficult balance of the building with its physical support . This ensures a desirable visual lightness.
The house merges with a long water surface which dissects the wide living and kitchen spaces. These spaces are complimented by terraces protected from the wind, but open to the sun and impressive views. This is the social area of the house; open and fluid.
Four bedrooms are located in a private area with access from a corridor that runs alongside a central courtyard. In this private courtyard the natural light is filtered, creating an intimate and desirable space.
The lower area provides garaging and technical support. The roof terrace accentuates the visual lightness of the floating building in its environment.
Fairfield Hacienda is a stunning contemporary dwelling that was the vision of MRTN Architects, located on the fringe of Melbourne, Australia’s inner suburbs. The new family home sits in an established residential street of Victorian villas and Californian bungalows. From the street, the angled roof home seems to fit into the landscape of single-level homes, effortlessly picking up the street’s original pattern of hipped and gabled roof forms. A closer look however, reveals that this new house sits unusually behind a sunny, walled courtyard. This room without a roof, except for a sheltering courtyard tree, is an extension of the living and dining spaces that open onto it.
The enclosed courtyard is located to the north of the house and creates a buffer between the street and the house allowing the living spaces to open up to and access northern light and warmth.
The front wall of the courtyard matches the front setback of the adjacent neighbors. In holding the typical front setback of houses along the street, and setting the house to the south, a sun filled outdoor area is created that can be used as a living, dining or play area. The courtyard space also becomes a semi-public space allowing interaction between the owners and local passerby’s; responding to the owner’s desire that the house engage with the established residents in the area.
The concrete block walls of the courtyard continue without interruption through the house’s main living areas. These walls remain unchanged except for the patina. Outside they are rough and weathered, but become polished and honed once inside. The design is not precious of the courtyard walls; eventually vines and creepers will take over the exterior concrete block and create a walled garden that will change by season.
The living spaces are covered with an undulating canopy of cedar, a warm blanket of timber. From the exterior the roof form relates to the neighboring roof geometries along the street but from inside the roof dips and rises to define the dining, kitchen and living spaces below. The timber ceiling is kept clear of down lights and services; all lighting is provided by concealed perimeter uplighting, at night the roof appears to float over the masonry walls below.
Beyond the living spaces the private zones of the house are arranged as two wings, a parents wing and a children’s wing, that wrap around a small courtyard. This central planted courtyard provides light and ventilation to the center of the house. Currently parents and young children can see each other through this void but over time planting will create greater privacy for older children.
The owners’ brief was to create a long-term family home, somewhere they could become a part of the street and its ongoing history. The Fairfield Hacienda sits comfortably within its local context while creating a contemporary light filled home that is orientated to the north and provides a variety of spaces to live in, both inside and out.
Photos: Peter Bennetts
Main Street House is a sensational multi-story modern property that has been designed by Robertson Design, situated in Houston, Texas. This residence is prominently situated at the convergence of two major streets and fronts the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, which has wings designed by Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Moneo. Formally, the house is composed of three volumes, which create a u-shaped courtyard to the rear. This courtyard, which is the heart of the building, is connected to the life of the Museum District through the large, fully glazed walls of the living room.
Photos: Benjamin Hill Photography
Franco Residence is a warm and elegant home design recently completed by KZ Architecture, located in a small beach neighborhood of Golden Beach, Florida. An expression of Modernism in the tropics, this residence was one of the last single family enclaves along South Florida’s coast line. The home was developed for a family of six on an infill island lot fronting the Intracoastal Waterway.
With adjacent homes to the North and the South, the house is designed around a Western courtyard, with all the rooms, including the living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast, family room and bedrooms organized around it. A series of outdoor spaces was developed in order to weave a continuity of spaces and materials from the street to the water. Starting at the covered entry path, the visitor is engaged by the intimate outdoor front courtyard, which connects through the great room of the house to the rear covered outdoor spaces that front the water views.
The long and narrow pool serves as the focal element in the courtyard, just like the sculptural stair serves this purpose for the great room inside. In both outdoor and indoor spaces, the two slate walls—the one framing the entrance and the one in the rear that cloaks the BAR-B-Q –are in dialogue with each other to emphasize the continuity from front to back. The sequence culminates with the wooden dock which evokes the entry courtyard of the same material. The same wood, Ipe, also frames the geometry of the balconies on the second floor.
Large projecting canopies allow for protected sun light to envelope every corner of the house. Clearstory glass penetrates the office area in the master bedroom and the access area to the children’s bedrooms on the second floor. Overall, horizontal and vertical planes of glass, stone, wood and white stucco are activated by the pervading light to accomplish an indoor-outdoor integration of spaces and form.
The front of the house expresses the larger two story volume in the background with the one story elements in the foreground , flanking the slate stone wall.
View of the rear courtyard, (excluding the metal canopy) with all the spaces in the house organized around it. The linear pool offers the focal element, balanced by another slate wall that contains the BAR-B-Q grill within.
Photos: Robin Hill Photography
This beautiful hillside residence has been designed by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects, sited to engage the undulating hillside and to capture the spectacular views of Mount Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay, located in Kentfield, California. A curved retaining wall follows the contours of the hillside and anchors the house to the steep site. This 5,900 square foot house is tucked under the living roof, which visually merges the house with the land. Growing out of the hillside, the roof is carved away to form a protected courtyard for the swimming pool.
Three volumes housing the living room, kitchen-dining area, and master bedroom rise up above the living roof with shed roofs angled to capture the sun for photovoltaic and solar hot water panels. The house incorporates passive and active heating and cooling systems, battery storage, and a cistern for water runoff management.
Photos: David Wakely Photography
Building an interior courtyard design into your home, spaces defined by walls on four sides, draws natural light and air of the outdoors into the center of your residence. These spaces may seem unnecessary with front and back yards, but they offer a Zen like quality that can bring a tremendous amount of pleasure to the homeowner. Having an interior courtyard in your home can filter sunlight into areas of the home that may not otherwise have natural light. In conjunction with well-planned landscaping, this area can seem like a private oasis protected from neighbors with a patch of ground and some sky that allows you a connection to the outdoors. We have gathered together a collection of inspiring examples of interior courtyards that may make them essential in your next renovation project!
If you are looking for further inspiration on bringing the outdoors into your home, have a look at one of our past articles, 60 Most sensational sunroom design inspirations.
Photo Sources: 1. HAHN Design, 2. Guz Architects, 3. Ong & Ong, 4. Russell Builders Inc., 5. Linebox Studio, 6. Nuevo Estilo, 7. Max Brunner, 8. Ehrlich Architects, 9. MESH Architectures, 10. Ikea Family Live Magazine, 11. Real Estate AU, 12. Flickr, 13. Bourne Blue Architecture, 14. Koch Architects, 15. Robeson Design, 16. Ron Neal Lighting Design, 17. Cornerstone Architects, 18. Studio Aiko, 19. Raymond Jungles Inc., 20. South Coast Architects, 21. Pinterest, 22. Studio Mumbai Architects, 23. MMTRA visualization, 24. Sennikoff Architects, 25. Alexandre Parent Photography, 26. SG Livingpod, 27. South Coast Architects, 28. Kappe + DU Architects, 29. Artisan Builds, 30. Dirk Denison Architects, 31. Elle Decor, 32. The Front Door Architecture, 33. John Maniscalco Architecture, 34. Vanguard Studio Inc., 35. Allen Associates, 36. Spinnaker Development, 37. Elevation Architectural Studios, 38. Celebrity Communities, 39. Conrad Design Group, 40. Spinnaker Development, 41. Sutton Suzuki Architects, 42. Window World, 43. Jarosz Architect, 44. Laidlaw Schultz Architects, 45. Cornerstone Architects, 46. Pacific Western Painting, 47. Celebrity Communities, 48. Thompson Custom Homes, 49. Antonio Martins Interior Design, 50. Celebrity Communities, 51. Sennikoff Architects, 52. FormLA Landscaping, 53. Fratantoni Luxury Estates, 54. Harrison Design Associates, 55. MVN Arquitectos, 56. Secret Gardens, 57. Inspired Property Designs, 58. Falling Waters Landscape