Courtyards have been a part of housing almost since the existence of ancient architecture. Most commonly occurring in temperate climate zones, courtyards are a beautiful design element employed for their social, environmental and therapeutic potentials. By definition, a courtyard is a circumscribed area, often surrounded by a building or complex and which is open to the sky. Traditionally courtyards served many purposes like cooking, sleeping, gardening and keeping animals. In modern times, the courtyard has not lost its relevance. Although space constraints have made it difficult for the courtyard to find a place in today’s homes, it is still recommended to use this beautiful feature for its several benefits. Here are some reasons how courtyards can be beneficial:

  1. Passive cooling: The building walls enclosing a courtyard provide shade and keep hot winds out. This creates a separate microclimate for the courtyard and any openings facing the courtyard receive cool air providing thermal comfort in the building during hot summer months.
  2. Reduce energy consumption: In an era of prevailing energy crisis, reduction of energy consumption through environmentally friendly techniques is the need of the hour. Climate change is a serious and crucial problem that needs urgent tackling. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint by employing passive cooling techniques are imperative design considerations.
  3. Better Ventilation: Courtyards are the best way to increase ventilation in a building. Not only do courtyards provide scope for more openings, but the air flow from a courtyard is naturally cooler and has less dust or pollution when compared to air received from exterior openings.
  4. Trees as shading devices: The presence of a tree in the courtyard greatly enhances its functional capacity. Apart from increasing the shade to openings and providing cooling, trees also add aesthetic value to the building.
  5. Outdoor relaxation: According to a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency, an average person spends 87% of his time indoors! Courtyards are the perfect place to seek a break from the toxic interiors. Also, viewing the night sky is one of the most effective methods of therapeutic relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety.

Here are some courtyard designs to give you inspiration for your design.


Sophisticated minimalism in a small space.


Modern courtyard design.


Nothing better than a water feature to enhance the effectiveness of passive cooling in courtyards. The soft bubbling sound also provides therapeutic relaxation. Designer – Handman Associates

Alloy 185 Plymouth Loft Dumbo

The sublime mingling of indoor and outdoor spaces. Architect – Jared Della Valle


Slide away walls, bring in sunshine. Architect – Marcio Kogan


Add a pop of colour to the home with spectacular nature. Visualizer – Sasha Gnativ


Bridging through the courtyard. Architect – ONG&ONG


Aesthetics and tranquility provided by the border of greenery. Designer – Jungles


Water pond in a courtyard – you cannot ask for a more environmentally friendly design. Architect – Ivan Andres Quizhpe


Classy contemporary – seamless merging of indoor and outdoor. Architect – Figr


Let the sunshine pour in – small spaces can also be the design game changers.


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