Living rooms, dining rooms, family halls, pantries, kitchens, bedrooms, home-theatres, gymnasiums and more for a house... all these have got to be linked with an `anti' space or a residual space — this can be a passage, a foyer space, a patio or an open courtyard. The courtyard, simply put, is a room open to the sky. It helps throw light into the adjoining rooms, while one can look from say the living room to the family hall or dining room.
Unlike the bedrooms or the living rooms, the central courtyards can be designed as multipurpose utilitarian spaces serving for activities like prayer, may be with a tulsi plant too.
An atrium space for family gathering (similar to the one at Spencers Plaza)
A good study area for the sun-lit mornings, early evenings, and for later hours too.
A hang-out space for a get-together... and maybe even a barbeque.
A small landscaped court with a light water body. The sound of flowing water is scientifically proved to be soothing.
The mural wall in the central court, featured in the photo, which helps one relax, is also an art work on the wall. It has been done with granite pieces, Kota and polished granite. The small landscaped areas have been carefully planned to keep the insects away and also prevent growth.
These aspects may definitely be worth the try to add in novelty to an open court. It also links the floors vertically, i.e., one can actually hear the sounds happening in the living room right at the first floor room level.This light court is a powerful torch, throwing the sunlight into the house with a controlled `aperture'.
Careful planning has to be done to maintain the light court and the small landscaped pockets. So a 10' dm pipe, either stone ware or heavy duty PVC pipes, have to be filled below the floor level for the draining of rain water and landscaped irrigation water.
The landscaping also may cause mosquitoes to hang around the landscaped areas, so it is important that windows and doors be provided with glass. Since we may be opting for a pergola roof cover above, the internal windows can be planned without grills and mostly with transparent glass.
Although these modern ideas prevail, the inner urge to have a home that is binding together is always present. Similarly, it is also the spaces and the way the architect articulates these spaces that would help define the lifestyles of the family. If the only gathering space is the living room, it most often would be around the TV set. Certainly, a family would interact better if it happens in a natural space like a central court or a landscaped sit-out.
The author is the Chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai