Azuma House by Tadao Ando

This is a small project yet it is simple and hit the concept. Designed by the self-taught Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Azuma House in Sumiyoshi, Osaka, Japan; replaces one of the traditional houses in this area built in wood.

The big contrast of the project itself between the traditional houses but in a dense urban core of Osaka row-houses. This narrow concreate rectangular row house seems brutal.

What I like about this project is how Tadao Ando created the courtyard space to let the light from the open sky making a small courtyard where it linked the two parts of the row house by a bridge.

Thinking about the normal rowhouse, if it's not having the part open to the sky,it will be so dense and dark and has poor ventilation.The only source of good light and ventilation is to open the top part of the house.Following the roof traditions, most row house doesn't have exact openning to the sky at the top.Yet this is a good example of how the simple thing can be done with good purpose on its concept of light.

This concrete box row house is two storeyed with the living room and kitchen located on the ground floor separated by the central courtyard and having the staircase leads to the upper floor that the two bedrooms are linked by a walkway or a bridge. Here the concrete box has no window and the central courtyard is the only source of natural light and ventilation.The reinforced concrete is the only ornamentation for the facade.The presence of a door infront suggests the use of this box.

Project Profile

Architect: Tadao Ando
Location : Osaka, Japan
Period : 1976
Projec Type: Row house, Small house
Climate: Semitropical
Context: Dense urban
Architectural Style: Modern

Project Site Detail

Site area:57 sq meters
Building area: 34 sq meters
Total floor area: 65 sqmeters

Site Plan

Main Sources:
Credits to original photographer,drawings and 3dsection-model

Hooper House

Well, this is a classic courtyard house back to postwar period;Hooper House or Hooper House II, designed by Marcel Breuer and Herbert Beckhard.It is located in Bare Hills in Baltimore County,Maryland.

View to the lake through the courtyard from the entrance

The most significant feature of this home is its central courtyard which divides the functions of the rooms of the house. I cannot find the architectural drawings so far that we will just study from its description and the pitures we have here.

The Living room,dining,cooking and entertaining are at the south wing of the house and family/bedrooms are at north wing and thus have the central courtyard devides the wing.

Every room except for two bathrooms, the 'family room', and the kitchen are located along the home's periphery and thus have the entire wall of made of glass, half of which is a floor to ceiling sliding-glass door.The living has two such doors because of there is so much glass.

View to the East

The house has the view to Lake Roland to the east.The front door(facing west) faces the center of the courtyard and glass doors and large rectangular gap in the stone of the rear wall has an unbostructed view literally through the home and the lake(to the east).

There is a stone wall which blocks the noise on the side of the family wing facing courtyard combined with a relatively narrow doorway connecting to the front entry hall.The west wall is a long wall of Maryland fieldstone and only broken only by the front door.

An interesting note is that, when this home was built, insulated glass was not as common as it is today - especially for windows as large as 8-1/2 by 10 feet - and so all the glazing in the house is 1/4" plate glass, with an R value of 1. Replacing it all with insulated glass to save energy would have a payback period several times the warranty for the new glazing - which has a perimeter seal between its two or more panes, subject to eventual failure. The original glass, which has no such failure mode, remains clear after 50 years.

Dining room, Dining chairs designed by Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer was an Hungarian-born modernist architect and furniture designer who was born in early 20th century.I also find his concept of binuclear house is very interesting.
The Geller House I of 1945 is the first to employ Breuer's concept of the 'binuclear' house, with separate wings for the bedrooms and for the living / dining / kitchen area, separated by an entry hall, and with the distinctive 'butterfly' roof (two opposing roof surfaces sloping towards the middle, centrally drained) that became part of the popular modernist style vocabulary. A demonstration house set up in the MOMA garden in 1949 caused a new flurry of interest in the architect's work, and an appreciation written by Peter Blake

Main Sources:,_Maryland)
Photos by:Zubin Shroff
Courtyard House | Ripple Design

The courtyard house designed by Ripple Design, LLc in LA, California. USA. I think I have seen this project in some magazine.I admit that I really liked it. I have the memory of climbing up the roof to watch the stars at night.But I am not really sure this house really can be climbed to its roof or not. Let's have a check.

The pupose of the design of the courtyard is to have the privacy while it is situated in the urban area.The courtyard reveals itself as a kind of plaza on a micro-urban scale ideal for the relaxing entertaining.It meets green design as it utilizes passive strategies of climatic control offering finalcial benefits to the client and reduced ecological footprint to the community.

There are courtyard door systems and the outside becomes the inside while opening. It also increases ventilation and regulate heat gain through combinations of these doors opened and closed.

The project has careful attention of detail and according to the house is nestled into the hillside, the thickening of specific walls and ceilings;the exploitation of dense or relective materials; all these utilize thermal mass to modulate heat gain and eliminate the need for air conditioning systems. Local craftsmen and materials means fewer resources are necesary or wasted with many of the materials are sustainably forested, long-lasting and break down easily in landfills.

Technological systems are utilized and highly efficient.Solar cells heat water and create electrical energy.Afterall, this house creates all it's own power, feeding its' surpluses back into the city grid.

Photo courtesy: Ripple Design
Sources: Ripple Design
Courtyard House on a Steep Site| Hutchison&Maul Architecture

Depending on the site, the design itself may have advantage and disadvantage but I like this project as it's designed to have the privilege of the site to have privacy and panoramic views by courtyard and terraces according to sloping of the site.

This courtyard house designed by Hutchison & Maul Architecture is located in Mercer Island,Wasington,USA. The site is very steep,long and narrow-50' wide by 400' long with an average slop of 35%.The site is having panoramic views west towards Seattle and the Olympic Mountains beyond. It is designed of zoning permitted construction on only 35' of the 50' property width, and limited the height of the building to 30' relative to the slope of the site.

The design has outdoor patios and courtyards cut in the hill slop to facilate
the movement of pedestrains on the site to provide natual light levels in the
primary home, and to ensure the privacy of neighboring properties.

The house consists of two parts that is a concrete pad that contains utilites used and less space and a volume hovering above the timber that contains the functions of private family rooms and bathrooms.The primary living areas are sandwiched between the wooden and concrete houses linking of windows that offer views across the level open house at the lake beyond.

To access the house, one navigates through the series of excavated exterior terraces and stairways, across water features and bridges, then down another stairway, finally arriving at a small exterior glass-enclosed courtyard in the center of the residence. This entry sequence informed the shape of the wood volume as well as the placement and configuration of the concrete retaining walls. Horizontal wood siding assembled with members of alternating depth enhance the notions of texture, shadow and perspective; contrast with the smooth concrete site walls; and ultimately heighten the journey from driveway to center of house.


The courtyard house by Studio Junction Inc. based in Toronto,Canada.The house reflects of the studio's interest in urbanism, the poetics of light and space and the detailing and craft of woodworking.You can see how the wood works are used and utilized.

The house has a simple plan yet it has the divided space of courtyard at the ground floor connecting the studio at the north west side and the living room at the two-storied block the other side. The open air terrace at second floor connecting the bath/laundry and the office (ground floor) which is open to below to it giving the natural light.

What I like is that how the light is used with craft of woodworking of this project.

Studio on the ground floor at the North West

At Courtyard foreseeing the studio

Living Room

At Courtyard foreseeing the living room

The terrace on second floor also as a playing area for kids

Natural light to office and wood cupboard at the stair

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