Courtyards are always hard to sell to clients, according Carla Middleton. The architect says clients often see this space from a real estate industry point of view as replacing a (potentially) more financially valuable bedroom.
‘As architects, it is our role to educate clients that while, yes, this space can be a room, the quality of the room and adjacent rooms will be so poor in quality that it will be rendered unused. It becomes dead space,’ explains Carla.
‘We all know that a small space can feel uncomfortable, but so too can a large space, or a large number of unused spaces… I am driven as an architect to educate clients when designing their homes that quality of space is far more important than quantity of space.’
Carla presented this idea to her clients to overcome the poor orientation of their existing Victorian house in Bellevue Hill, Sydney.
‘The large long backyard is south facing. The challenge was to ensure the large backyard can be used for a young family, without making the centre of the house feeling dark,’ says Carla.
‘A central courtyard which could draw in the northern light and bounce to spaces either side was vital to the success of the home.’
This concept is responsible for the light-filled home you see today that revolves around a central courtyard, followed by the double-height open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen with a skylight above.
All four bedrooms and two bathrooms are now located on the upper floor, with the void providing separation from the main bedroom. ‘
The main bedroom overlooks an expansive and lush backyard which feels extremely private given its dense location,’ says Carla.
Visually, the design was driven by a nearby project also designed by Carla Middleton Architecture that delineates old and new. ‘The owners wanted to retain the heritage features of the existing part of the house. The courtyard marks the break from old to new,’ Carla says.
‘We like to design homes that are of today, not trying to be in the past or future.’
Colour is introduced through the outdoors, which the owners are connected to in every room via a neighbouring tree, green courtyard, and the lush green backyard.
The success of the overall project lies in the introduction of natural light. Carla adds, ‘The existing house was so dark and cold… Now you walk into a bright, light and happy space.’