MAKE - Courtyards not backyards
The courtyard house is a typology that has existed for thousands of years. Its use spans history, civilizations, cultures and climates. At Kelder Architects we like to make courtyards, light courts and on a larger scale piazzas and public squares. Regardless of scale a courtyard is space that can make a place that is connected to the environment, the landscape and our city.
A Brief History
Courtyard housing could be considered as the oldest form of residence, examples have been found in ancient civilisations from Kahun in Egypt and even further back to 2000 B.C. in the Chaldean City of Ur. Although similar in form the historical attributes of the courtyard house are varied depending on the environment and culture, we see examples from Sumerian Culture, Egyptian, South American, Middle Eastern and Islamic, Chinese, Japanese and later western cultures such as the Greeks and the Romans.
The Brisbane Courtyard House
Here in Brisbane the courtyard typology is sadly a much neglected form of residence. Typically our model for the occupation of the site is a single detached dwelling sited approximately in the middle of the lot with a front yard and a back yard. Often this results in a home that is somewhat detached from its site and its garden, this detachment is further exacerbated when the home has multiple levels. Take for example the typical Queenslander, it is raised high from the site flanked by a veranda space on one or all sides. This creates a darker home where the living spaces often have no visibility to the main outdoor spaces. Below is an example of a typical Brisbane small lot with a traditional ‘Queenslander’ site use vs a courtyard house site use.
Over time the courtyard model has been proven to be both beneficial and infinitely adaptable. The typology works in all climates and environments from rural to urban areas. Even on a larger scale the courtyard as a piazza or public square has been frequently adopted. Here are a few of the many benefits of a courtyard house:
The courtyard works as an extension of your interior spaces. The kitchen, dining and living rooms become connected to a larger outdoor space for relaxation in the mornings or entertaining guests in the evenings.
A space for family members and guests to connect and interact, rather than deep set isolated spaces the courtyard plan allows rooms to be connected to the larger house and garden. Courtyard spaces can contain pools, fireplaces, gardens, lawns, shaded seating areas, cooking and dining areas.
The courtyard offers visual and acoustic privacy even in dense urban areas. The walled entrances and screens offer seclusion and commodious peaceful spaces.
The courtyard can create opportunity to live around the garden; shade, water, trees, lawn and flowers can all be part of the courtyard space and have proven physical and psychological benefits. Maintenance of outdoor spaces becomes more a part of the interior routine and less an isolated chore in the ‘backyard’.
Climatic benefit, the courtyard can create a micro-climate due to their ability to mitigate extreme temperatures by adjusting the degree of humidity, channel breezes and reduce or increase heat gain. Energy consumption and reliance on air-conditioning is reduced as interior spaces have access to cooling breezes and natural light for heating and pleasant well-lit interiors.
As a typology the courtyard house continues to evolve, here at Kelder Architects we understand the effectiveness of the courtyard and are actively contributing to its further use and evolution (see our work here). We believe it is a mode of site occupation that is perfectly suited to the Brisbane lifestyle and to the Queensland sub-tropical environment. Below is a plan of our Kingscliff Beach Courtyard House, a house designed for a larger family with indoor / outdoor living spaces and bedroom spaces positioned around a central courtyard.
Out on site at our Bardon house, the crisp clear Brisbane winter morning revealing textures and contrast of the exterior materials.
When you are first considering engaging a professional to design your project here in Brisbane you typically have a choice of either architects, building designers or a draftsperson.
We thought we would take a quick look at the main differences;
The Architect - Architects Brisbane
Here in Brisbane and throughout Australia the title of ‘architect’ is protected by the The Architects Act 2002. The Architects Act gives powers to prosecute persons who use the title "architect" or "registered architect" or who hold out that they are architects when they are not registered as such. The Architects Act provides severe penalties for "holding out " offences. It also ensures that an architect must be “board registered”, this means they’ve met all the requirements for registration:
completed a recognised university degree (usually 5 – 6 years of study)
completed and logged a minimum of 2 years on the job experience, working under a registered architect.
Passed a written exam
Passed an interview panel exam
And finally demonstrate fitness to practice as an architect each year via required reporting of continued professional development (CPD) and study.
As the client you are greatly protected by this process as long as your architect is registered by the Board of Architects in your state. You can be sure your architect has been extensively trained, is bound by a professional code of conduct and has no major complaints against them. Architects can advise and guide you through all aspects of the building process including:
Selecting a site or new home
Designing and planning buildings of any height or floor area
Preparing construction documentation and specifications
Undertaking feasibility and yield studies
Managing the building budget
Preparing building contract documentation
Managing certain aspects of the Construction process (Contract Administration)
An important note is to always check if your architect is actually a current registered architect, they may be a person ‘holding out’ as an architect. Here in Queensland you can perform a quick search of the register here.
The Building Designer
A building designer in Queensland will hold a licence with the Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ). To hold this they will usually have a TAFE qualification, Diploma of Building Design or an Associate degree of Building Design or similar from a university.
Depending on their qualification, level of experience and insurances they may hold a license for Building Design – Low Rise, Building Design Medium Rise or Building Design Open. These determine the size and height of the buildings they are qualified to design.
Most of the time a person in this role will have a TAFE diploma or something similar where they have learnt to draw and produce documentation required for construction. They may have also learnt their skills on the job from another experienced draftsperson. Currently in Australia there is no requirement for a person offering services as a draftsperson to be a member of any association or board.
Why use an Architect?
Now that you have a greater understanding of the differences, here are a few of many reasons to use an architect over other building design professionals. Here at Kelder Architects Brisbane we see our services as an investment rather than a cost.
Investment rather than Cost
The fees charged by an architect can be seen as an investment rather than a cost and when viewed as part of the overall building cost and lifecycle cost are well justified. Through good education, good design, good documentation and good project administration an architect can add value to your building and save you money.
Investment in Education and Registration
A longer period of study means that an architect has been exposed to a wider and more in-depth approach to design. Architecture is a huge and rigorous field of study, this means from the outset that an architect’s service will be informed by an entire educational discourse spanning 5 – 6 years at university and then a minimum of 2 years on the job experience. Along with this, as already mentioned the architect’s registration process ensures a high standard of competency and professional conduct.
Investment in Design
The design phase is the ‘make or break’ moment for your project. If the design is ill-considered the end result will be ill-considered. Architect’s specialise in design; it is the main focus of our education and practice. Our design processes will be exploratory at first where we will often test your design brief to ensure that the project will maximise the potential of your investment. The decisions that are made at this point require time and expertise, they will determine if your investment will improve a buildings value, function and longevity. Generally an architect will expect to invest a much longer time period in this phase before moving onto documentation.
Investment in Documentation
Drawings are what communicate the design in all its detail. Because architects are focussed on design and detail, they will often produce overall construction documentation packages that are many more pages than building designers or draftsman may produce. A greater level of documentation will take longer to produce but has benefits during the build. It will leave less to be assumed by the builder and will control the quality of the outcome much more effectively. It will also ensure that costs are controlled as the builder can provide an accurate tender price and contractually commit to a fixed construction sum.
Investment in Administration
An architect is trained in the administrative procedures that go along with design and construction. Costs can be controlled during the design phase by regularly assessing the design with professional cost estimators or building contractors. During the build an architect has an intimate understanding of what is required by the contract. The architect will regularly assess the works on site for compliance and quality, they will identify potential defective workmanship and they will determine payments, completion and final certification. Our aim is to get the most out of your budget whether it be a small or large project.
We always design with the garden in mind. Here in Brisbane we have the perfect climate for that indoor / outdoor lifestyle. We worked with Martin Brothers landscaping on our recently completed Virginia Ave house, a beautiful selection of plants and a great result. More photos soon, photo credit of this beautiful olive tree to Martin Brothers.
With the winter months approaching our outdoor room with a fireplace will be the perfect place to be to enjoy the farmscape at our Brookfield project.
The shearers quarters is sited as a stand alone building to an existing farm house property. The small residence will house family and friends for visits and weekend retreats.
We’ve updated our branding and below, images and words.
Construction progress continues at our Hamilton renovation project. An entirely new back end to a grand family home.
Construction and design development continue at our Virginia Ave house with an outdoor garden fireplace and BBQ bench.
Kelder Architects is working with SouthPine Community Church on a new main entry and office wing, giving a new face to the existing building
We are excited to be working with Mitchelton Presbyterian Church to expand and renovate their existing facilities.
The newly built Auchenflower house we designed is complete. The opening night and launch to the Brisbane Real Estate market was last night. More photo's on the way.
A major renovation to a beautiful Queenslander on one of Hawthornes best streets. Kelder Architects working with K2 Projects and starting construction later this year 2017 - 2018.