Renaissance, Victorian, Colonial designs… The list could go on and on to describe those four walls that keep a roof over heads and provide safety and comfort at all moments. I just sold my house and am energetically looking for a new home to call my own. But how do I choose a house that resembles me?
I’m lucky. I have had a chance to travel around a bit. And I have this little idea flirting in the back of my mind of what my ‘dream’ house should be like. And it doesn’t look like any of the houses around my corner! 😂 When I encounter real estate sellers, I do love their question “So what style of house inspires you?”
The kind of house where I’m inside and outside at the same time. 😬
Then comes the puzzled face. Hummm? But it does exist! I’m not crazy. It’s called a courtyard house.
According to certain research, courtyard housing dates back to the beginning of the third millennium when it appeared in the buildings of around the area of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (Turkey, Syria, Iraq area). It is likely that the previous nomadic desert lifestyle of Arab nomads had a strong influence on their permanent houses. Indeed they were used to setting up their tents around a central space, which provided shelter and security to their cattle during their travels and stay in the desert.
By the way no, I am not of Arab-Islamic origin but does it really matter?
But can we go all the way back to the Romans and the Atrium? The official definition is “part of an ancient Roman house consisting of an interior courtyard and usually surrounded by a “covered gallery supported by two rows of columns, a gallery known as the portico.” Doesn’t that look familiar?
And is it a coïncidence that many Abbeys have cloisters closed and opening out onto a square garden ? This was a central part of the building where ‘life’ began as it was the starting point branching off into the activities that contributed to the rhythm of the occupants’ lives.
And as I search even, I discover the concept of courtyard houses around the world: hacienda in Latin America with its central courtyard, the riad in Northern Africa, the cloisters in religious architecture and going all the way to Japan!
So in the end, does it really matter what type of style I like? Being a world citizen, I’m probably a perfect mix of Roman-Arab-Latino-Japanese… 😂 Or maybe, simply, have I been seduced by the call of the outside like so many no matter the culture and geographical location. And we can simply appreciate this architectural type that suceeds in fulfilling a deep-rooted need for an open living area. Open, but closed to prying eyes (of course)! And yet still allowing us to unite with the outside. With nature.
So maybe we aren’t so different after all!
Do not hesitate to read the article on the riads. Discover the secrets of this little paradise: