The courtyard at Ranjini Manian's house The same courtyard from another angle. Antique window frames and mirrors have been used as art objects. This courtyard was 'created' long after the house was built. The house was in two blocks connected by a corridor that had arches with metal grills and glass windows. The courtyard was created on both sides of this corridor and the far ends enclosed. Concrete pergolas were used to provide security and the balance area was covered with 'hourdi' (hollow clay block) tiles. This prevented the rain beating into the areas closer to the house and also helped regulate the light. Here polycarbonate sheets were not used and rain was allowed to fall into the garden. The courtyard on the other side of the corridor. The arches in the corridor are now open thus making it part of the garden as well as the house. The dining room can be seen at the end of the corridor. In the Umapathy house, the narrow space outside the living room window where the neighbour had built a garage abutting the compound wall, a pergola was used to provide security thus allowing the window grilles to be removed bringing in the narrow garden into the house. The opposite side of the room opens to a larger courtyard and that is from where this photograph was taken. A small 'chettinad' type of courtyard on the first floor of the Dr. Ramamuthi house in Chennai. Traditional wooden pillars and a cement 'thinnai' or seat with the Mangalore tiled roof give it the right ambience. This little courtyard forms the focal point of the family area on the first floor of the Gopinath residence in Shenoynagar, Chennai. The courtyard from another angle. This courtyard at the Gunaseelan house, though done in a more contemporary style, still follows the the same concept and it serves to bring in light and form a focal point. The courtyard looking towards the dining room. The concept of the courtyard was used here in a commercial building for the corporate offices of Loyal Textile Mills Ltd. at Raja Annamalaipuram, Chennai. This helps to bring a lot of natural light to the building helping it to conserve energy. Another view of the same courtyard.
Courtyards

Practically all of the houses designed by ARCHAID have incorporated a courtyard in some form or other. Sometimes these form a central open space or it could be located along an end wall, depending on the size of the plot. Either way, these courtyards serve to bring in a lot of light and at the same time create a focal point within the house. This is relevant in today's city plots where houses are within touching distance of each other and there is hardly any scope to have a soothing view outside your window! In the past too these courtyards or light wells served a similar purpose in old houses and housing complexes in India and Europe where buildings stood shoulder to shoulder and depended on a central open space to provide light and also act as a space for interaction. The photographs here represent the courtyard space in some of the houses we have designed over the years. Traditionally these spaces were open to the elements from the top. Today however, with security concerns and a need for easy maintenance, a concrete pergola is provided at the top to prevent access and also a roof of transparent polycarbonate sheets which will stop the rain from beating into the house.