The Essential Courtyard Home
The courtyard home is an iconic design, with a central courtyard, unroofed, and buildouts and atriums hiding around each corner. Perfected during the Roman empire, this style of house spread throughout the Roman empire and to its colonies such as England, influencing other styles of architecture for centuries to come.
The central courtyard is typically landscaped, with grasses and shrubs. It might have a pool or pond; it often has elegant seating, seemingly designed for profound reflection or intimate conversation.
La Casa dei Conti-Vecchi
Surrounded by exotic trees and abundant cactus species, the Conti-Vecchi house is a classic example of a true Mediterranean-style courtyard dwelling, surrounded on three sides by public, semi-public and private home functions, and enclosed on the fourth side by a solid wooden fence with double gate.
A Holiday Home in Southern Sardinia
The house is located near Cagliari, the central port and capital city of Sardinia, and Villasimius, one of the best summer destination towns on the island. While Cagliari offers museums, historical sightseeing and international connections through its port and airport, Villasimius provides beautiful long sandy beaches, a fantastic culinary experience, and a lively nightlife, particularly during the summer.
Inside a Mediterranean Villa
The house is large and can easily accommodate an extended family - Italians prefer to spend their leisure time with grandparents, children with spouses and grandchildren - while still giving everybody vast amount of elbow room.
The public spaces include a large living room divided into two separate seating areas, an afternoon tea room, two dining rooms (one for every day and one for festive occasions), a TV nook, and rooms for storage and laundry near the kitchen.
The private rooms include four bedrooms, each with a separate full bathroom (including sink, shower, toilet and bidet). As is common in Italian dwellings, there is no guest bathroom.
The outside living spaces are grouped around the private/public courtyard, where additional dining space has been created under a maharajah tent. Additional bench seating has been placed at intervals along the perimeter walls of the courtyard. There is also country-style dining facing a wood-burning open-fire oven (for roasting Sardinian piglets), with access from the kitchen and dining area of the house.
Taken as a whole, the courtyard arrangement is designed for a family-oriented living style; it allows family members to mingle between various zones, while maintaining privacy when necessary. Additional public spaces have been introduced around the house.
These include a storage shed with built-in exterior shower (after all, you’ll need to shower off your sandy feet before entering the house), a marsh pond with its own flora and fauna (complete with little frogs and toads which start talking to each other when the sun sets), a fruit and vegetable garden with olive and fruit trees, and beautifully landscaped old-growth exotic trees and shrubs. Throughout the house and the garden, the owners have planted a variety of cactuses; some in pots to be brought indoors during the winter, while others, hardier and better prepared for the cold, are planted in the garden.
A Showhome for Antiques
The owners are devoted collectors of various artifacts. The entire house is filled with their many collections - from very humble household artifacts (i.e. pots and plates) to beautiful art (i.e., paintings and collection of crosses). Special display shelves are provided to display their ancestral collection of beautiful relics from Africa.
Altogether, the house is an architectural gem and a splendid place to spend your summer holiday.
Benefits of a Courtyard Home
The introverted character of a courtyard house promotes a sense of privacy while providing space for gatherings, family time and social events. Open passageways facilitate movement between the many parts of the house without forcing users to stay inside.
The courtyard also provides natural protection from environmental pollutants such as overhangs, light, traffic, noise and dirt, as well as shelter from the wind. Well-drained, the porous paved floor and softly landscaped area retain the snow better and are more attractive as a playground, even during the winter months. The courtyard will provide a cool, shaded area on hot days, and during the winter months, it will create a pocket of trapped, warmer air, permitting multi-seasonal use.
Designed purely as a space for enjoyment and relaxation, the courtyard should also offer various outdoor seating arrangements; benches, viewing windows, and dining tables with chairs all make the courtyard space versatile and a pleasure to sit in, at different times of the day and for different uses. A permanent or removable marquis, tent-style awning or umbrella will provide all the shade and protection needed for days spent outside.
The courtyard home has passed the test of time and has many benefits, both practical and aesthetic, to offer. To learn more about our courtyard home projects, please contact us by filling out our "Request a Consultation" form.
Photo credit: Magdalena Kurylowicz, Tomasz Sztuk