Courtyards – The Elegant Energy Efficient Design Solutions

Courtyards – The Elegant Energy Efficient Design Solutions

Interoir Design

Climate change is real. As industrial governing bodies implement rules and regulations to control emissions, and governments ban single use plastics, architecture design has also evolved its offerings to contribute positively to this movement. People are proactively changing their lifestyles to help the environment and architects through biophilic building designs are supporting this change through a multitude of offerings that are energy efficient.

Courtyards and atriums play a major role in keeping homes energy positive. Courtyards have been culturally an inherent part of homes and localities. Gullies and mohallas had designated “squares” for people to get together.

Homes had “aangans” or inner courtyards bringing a little bit of the beautiful outside inside the safety of the four walls of the home. These spaces also form an important aspect of the Biophilic Design concept – “to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.”

Here we will look at how these courtyards, so embedded in our design culture, create energy efficient homes and building structures by reducing dependency on air conditioners and other artificial means that are harmful for the environment.

The climatic role of the courtyards:

  1. Passive Cooling – A great way to introduce passive-cooling in homes is by adding a water body in the courtyard. A fountain, or a water feature will cool the water entering the building though evaporation.
  2. Passive Heating – A well placed courtyard with intelligently angled windows will help make the best use of the Sun’s rays, capturing warmth in cold weather. These help in regulating the temperature within the house against the harsh elements of nature.
  3. Natural Oxygen Bank – A courtyard can house plants and trees, given the space, that can create a private source of clean fresh oxygen rich air. A good selection of plants can offer the much-needed air purification.
  4. Cross Ventilation – Strategically placed windows, doors and vents, can leverage the natural air-currents and ensure good air movement, removing hot air and circulating fresh air.
  5. Nature Connect – It is proven that connection with nature has a good impact on mental and emotional health. Being in natural greenery and look at plants, trees and water can have tremendously calming and positive health benefits.
  6. The night breeze: Courtyards have hotter air as compared to outside. The lighter warm air rises up (the stack effect) making space for cool air from outside. This cool air in turn flows through windows, enabling the rooms to experience a cool breeze.

The courtyards also greatly elevate the design quotient of the house:

  1. Natural Light – Courtyards add direct or indirect natural light into the home. Natural light is important for overall health and well-being of the household and courtyards enable just that by offering the benefits of sunlight.
  2. Traditional Classic comes Home – Courtyards usher in a touch of traditional aesthetic gracefully offsetting the modern. A glimpse of nostalgia, in the modern fast-paced lifestyle.
  3. The Nature Artwork – A courtyard, complete with foliage and terracotta highlights to create a secret garden, a calming space. An artwork that you can escape to, a place to practice slow-living, replete with nature, light and positive vibes.
  4. Private Gardens – If the space permits, it is possible to create smaller courtyards, for different parts of the house, introducing pops of outside, into the home. Private galleries for everyone.

Courtyards are back in play in a big way, what with their environmental benefits and their uplifted design. They create a pleasant outdoor space within the home, that is functional, beneficial and a source of joy. Get in touch to get one for your new project.

*Pics credit Houzz app

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