Courtyard houses can help to achieve good quality private outdoor space for houses on narrow lots. This outdoor space can be very sheltered and private, and accessible from multiple parts of the house. It can create better opportunities for improved cross ventilation and solar access to rooms by increasing the amount of external wall area. This house type may be particularly useful when the activities over the front and back or side boundaries are not compatible with creating good quality private open space close to these boundaries.
The build cost can be higher because of increased wall area and circulation space, which can also increase heat loss. Focus on an internal courtyard space can mean that other spaces around the sides and rear of the house may connect poorly to the dwelling and feel ‘left over’. Such houses can also negatively impact on neighbours if built close to or on the rear boundary of a zero lot development. Focus on providing a courtyard rather than a rear yard can also mean there is no space to plant large trees.
Ensure the size, orientation and proportions of the courtyard allow for good sun exposure, particularly in winter.
Carefully consider the location of the outdoor space in relation to neighbour’s private open spaces and main windows. To maintain acoustic and visual privacy consider acoustic fencing between the courtyard and any neighbouring house.
Design the house to allow convenient access to the rear yard.
Aim to provide some large scale (i.e. at least as high as the roof) planting to provide shade and privacy where appropriate, and help to integrate the house into any neighbourhood that is characterised by extensive garden planting.