The Umerani's modern suburban ranch house (by Apple architects Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson) wraps around a central fountain courtyard (photo courtesy Umerani Associates).
A well executed courtyard makes a house memorable as well as more
livable. The strong indoor-outdoor connection is a powerful lure but
also the geometry of the space, its openings and wall surfaces, and
paving materials play important roles.
A courtyard design like Mid-century Modern Eichler Plan 470-6
is especially as a way to gain private outdoor space on a tight lot. Architect Gregory La Vardera has reinterpreted the Eichler atrium design for today, as shown in Plan 431-11.
At a lecture recently I met Jawed Umerani,
a talented structural engineer who very graciously gave me a tour of
his wonderful new courtyard home, which was designed by Apple Stores
architects Bohlin Cywinksi Jackson. Of course
Jawed, whose firm Umerani Associates
is a frequent consultant for the Bohlin firm, did the engineering and
contributed much to the design. It shows how to fit an exciting
light-filled, outdoor-oriented, one story house onto a tight suburban lot. From the street, it’s impossible to tell what lies ahead — you see
the garage, a ribbon of walkway leading to a sheltered entry. That
remarkable stone-paved outdoor room awaits just beyond the front door, on the other side of a small
sitting area. The elegant U-shaped house puts the bedrooms on one side
and the great room on the other. Light floods in from all sides.