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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crazy About Courtyards

Before the invention of air-conditioning, houses in the tropics incorporated features that allowed air and light to enter the house. This internal courtyard (pictured above) at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was most charming indeed. It was a very hot and sunny day... but since the ceilings were high and the courtyard was bigger than many modern bedrooms... the interiors of the house felt quite cool indeed. The house had 2 adjoining wings. Each wing had its own interior courtyard where people could take in air and sunshine without fear of prying eyes (pictured below).

Before the invention of piped water supply, houses in the tropics had features to collect rainwater for use. At the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The courtyard is large (larger than many modern bedrooms and even living rooms) and hence, it captures a fair amount of water during heavy tropical rains. The water escapes through pipes into cisterns under the house.

The picture above shows the the view of the internal courtyard from the 2nd storey. I found the bright sunlight captivating. Again, it is relatively cool where I stood to take pictures.

It's funny how we have come a full circle. These days, the latest buzzword in architecture is "green buildings". These old houses were very "green" indeed. If ever I build a house again (likely never), I will make sure I put in an internal courtyard. They're positively dreamy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

internal courtyards have always appealed to me...I'm not much on yards that are meant to be seen by my internal courtyard allows one to have plants that are seen and appreciated by those that dwell within.