Homes and gardens


Indoor greenery

Indoor greenery  

An indoor courtyard is just what the architect ordered for a happy home. By Sathya Prakash Varanashi

As the world is sizzling with global warming, one design element is staging a major comeback – indoor courtyards. Be it atriums in tall hotels, spectacular indoor space in a mall, roadside restaurants or a fine finished house – designers are relying upon one of the oldest architectural ideas.

It is aesthetically attractive, experientially refreshing, and above all ecologically relieving to observe this trend. For all the mindless enclosure of large indoor space with stuffed-in experience and darker interiors, courtyards let in rejuvenating sunlight and breathe in fresh air. Hopefully, more the courts, lesser the air conditioning.

Soft light

Soft light  

The means of achieving courtyards and their impacts can be myriad. There can be a large sky-lit courtyard with green plants, serving as an extension of the living area, doubling as a private family space while having temporary partitions. A well-lit courtyard can take a designer staircase along its wall surface, be it in RCC, steel or stone slabs, becoming a focus of the space. Most often, courtyards connect two otherwise distinct spaces like living and dining, or dining and kitchen, creating a perception of largeness.

Typically, courtyard is a completely indoor matter, while we call the outdoor spaces as gardens. But if one can intelligently redefine the outside setbacks, and run the building glass wall around it, we may get a larger sense of space within the same site area, thanks to the indoor to outdoor connect we are achieving.

Plants, pavers, seats, sand and other features complete the designer court.

Doors do the trick

There also can be an external courtyard, more like a opened up back or side yard, which is walked up directly from inside the house. Staggering the house walls very easily creates such side spaces, which are an unsaid extension to the inside. They also could be called as outside gardens. But with sliding, folding or collapsible doors, the outside becomes inside once we open the door shutter.

Relax here

Relax here  

Most courtyards are enjoyed as an extension of living or dining, so seen across horizontally. The unusual angle of looking down into the court has to be actually experienced, to feel the beauty. The view will capture the space and objects below from a different, hence curious angle.

Let us imagine an internal courtyard with antique columns, large planters, built-in seats, indoor small water fountains and decent interiors – it will be a happy home. Sunlight flowing in may cheerfully flood the living and dining spaces built around it.

If most of this text has focused on aesthetics, it is not to ignore the ecology.

Majority of people in the design and execution teams know of the environmental advantages of the courtyard, but do not promote them out of some apprehension.

The sheer beauty and attractions suggested off the court above may lead more people to adapt them for many multiple advantages – ecological, aesthetical and functional.

(The author is an architect working on eco-friendly designs and can be contacted at

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 5:51:49 AM |

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