courtyard house 1

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How do you design an urban residence on a compact plot that integrates plenty of natural light and access to the outdoors, while maintaining as much privacy as possible? Flip the conventional layout of the home so that the space once reserved for a yard around the perimeter of the property is on the inside instead. Interior courtyards surrounded by glazed walls act like oversized skylights and blur the lines between indoors and out.

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Built in the historic neighborhood of San Miguel Chapultepec in Mexico City, Casa de los Cuatro Patios (House with Four Courtyards) staggers four courtyards with four living volumes to form a chessboard pattern, enclosing it all behind a twenty-foot wall that blends in with the surrounding structures on the block.

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Each courtyard has its own character, planted with various varieties of trees and other greenery, the floor made up of stones. An additional, lushly planted terrace on the roof provides even more green space, typically a rare luxury in urban neighborhoods. A glass rectangle protrudes from the roof of the two-level house, functioning in the outdoor space just like the courtyards do within the interior space below.

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The glazed partitions between the interior and exterior spaces make the home feel extraordinarily open, yet those private spaces can’t be seen by any neighbors. Tree branches reach up to the uppermost level from the ground through the atrium-like openings. The result is cohesive and seamless with the unexpected feel of an oasis.