Chiara Del Core 24 apr 2019 Articles 0 comments


We have found that the housing typology of the house with patio has undergone countless changes over the course of history, however, it is still possible to trace some features that have remained constant over time.
The distribution scheme of the patio house has a regular and closed plan with a central open space onto which the internal rooms overlook. The smaller sides have few openings on the facade and the only connecting element with the context is represented by the entrance to the house. For this reason, this building solution has always been considered the result of the need for privacy and an almost anti-urban confidentiality. The house with patio thus constitutes a real independent microcosm within the urban fabric.
The patio is the portion of land located in a central position and enclosed by the rooms of the residence. The courtyard must be large enough to be recognizable as an open space of relevance, but not too much, in order to maintain its identity as an internal area. The guiding criterion used in the design to obtain a good result consists in maintaining the proportions between the size of the area and the height of the volume that surrounds it.
The courtyard house consists of a residence and patio which together occupy the entire surface. Residual spaces are totally absent and private property is adjacent to the public space. Depending on the typological choice, the patio can be more or less permeable compared to the context (closed, semi-closed, open patio).
The entrance of the house with patio is the only link between the context and the most intimate rooms of the residence. It can be located in the living area or in the passage between it and the sleeping area. In the case of complexes of patio houses, the position of the entrance to the internal dwelling will determine the aggregative conformation of the residences.
Since the residential units have fronts with few functional openings, the courtyard houses can be placed directly next to each other through the blind walls. In the complexes built throughout history, single-family courtyard houses occupy blocks in which residences, private green spaces (patios), public green spaces and connecting paths coexist. This system generates a compact urban fabric and promotes sociality.
In the contemporary courtyard house, the idea of introversion is dampened and leaves room for the concept of sharing and social exchange, while still ensuring a good level of privacy. This practical change arises from a vision of living that is less and less private than in the past.

Schema tipologie patio
Graphic schemes Chiara Del Core

The advantages of the patio house

Throughout history, the patio house has found its maximum diffusion in the Mediterranean territory, where the mild climate favored the exploitation of the open private space. However, in recent decades there has been growing interest in this residential type even in the northernmost area of ​​Europe.
The need is to live in spaces on a human scale, with portions of appurtenant and common greenery. Furthermore, the patio represents an advantageous solution also from the thermo-hygrometric point of view. In fact, it is an excellent solution for cooling residences located in warm territories and at the same time, it allows you to retain heat and light in colder areas. To this end, it is appropriate to make the best material and morphological choices in relation to the place where you are, remembering that the light surfaces reflect the sun's rays and heat less, the dark ones on the contrary, absorb more heat. If the dimensions allow it, the inclusion of tree species of low and medium stems will allow to cool the open area and create shaded spaces that will facilitate the use of the patio during the summer season. During the daytime, a real exchange of hot and fresh air is created, stored respectively in the areas exposed to the sun and in the shaded ones. During the night, however, excess hot air will tend to rise and be released into the air. In this way, the air will be healthier and an ideal microclimate will be created for the well-being of the user.
Schema patio calore
OUTDOOR PATIO and climatic benefits for internal comfort
Graphic schemes Chiara Del Core

As regards the lighting aspect, the presence of the patio constitutes a plus value in terms of light quality. If the patio is surrounded by windows, the light filters easily during the daytime, contributing to energy savings and promoting the psycho-physical well-being of the resident. In fact, on the contrary, environments that do not enjoy good lighting cause visual stress with repercussions on the health of the individual. To this end, it is essential to take into consideration the orientation of the building: the south-east and south-west axis guarantees exposure to sunlight all year round, while the north axis lives in reflected light, less deep but distributed more evenly indoors.
Schema patio luce
Incidence of sunlight in a patio house with South East - South West orientation, resulting in an excellent level of natural lighting
Graphic schemes Chiara Del Core

The diffusion of natural light in the rooms also acts as a connecting and balancing element between the open space and the actual residence. Currently, despite its great potential, the patio house is not used to a large extent because of urban plans which tend to favor building typologies at reduced construction costs. However, this type of solution, in addition to ensuring a high density with a horizontal development, ensures excellent livability. In fact, it is able to combine the advantages of single-family villas with the needs of a large user base, becoming an accessible and no longer elitist model as it once was. Today, however, it is possible to trace solutions that provide for the aggregation of various types of patio houses, more or less open to the outside.

Patio - Schema di aggregazione chiuso  Patio - schema di aggregazione semichiuso  Patio - schema aggregazione aperto

Schemes of aggregation of houses with closed, semi-closed and open patios (click on the image to enlarge)
Graphic schemes Chiara Del Core

The contemporary patio house

Ancient origins, peculiarities firm in the past, the courtyard house today is a private building typology. The aesthetic internal patio is an element that is found above all in individual houses of a certain architectural value. It is a solution that draws on tradition but is shaped by today's and changing tastes.
The functional open space, on the other hand, occupies an area pertaining to the house, interpreted as the vital fulcrum of family life. Large windows are often favored to allow natural light to filter in and to ensure continuity, as if the patio were the spontaneous continuation of a living room or kitchen.
From a practical point of view, this peculiarity makes it possible to exploit a space that would otherwise be purely aesthetic. During the summer season, the development of daily life can find an alternative to the closed rooms of the house, while during the winter, the courtyard becomes necessary for the improvement of the microclimate and light intensity.
In designing the patio, some basic attention must be paid to the success of the residential complex. Let's see below what are the criteria to follow.
The percentage of covered patio area determines its type. We are talking about closed patios in the presence of verandas or total and removable covers, semi-open patios if flexible elements cover partial surface areas and open patios in the absence of covers. Let's talk about all those structures such as gazebos and pergolas, inserted in order to shade small functional areas and maximize their use. One or the other choice depends on personal needs and taste: if the indoor patio can be used all year round and is an integral part of the interior, the outdoor space returns the priceless feeling of being in contact with the surrounding environment. Today, the market offers innumerable solutions to shield areas exposed to the sun: ranging from classic tents, to tensile structures, ending with the most innovative technological solutions that provide lamellar elements adjustable in height and inclination through a convenient remote control.
The most coveted patio houses have large windows that allow light to flow into the interior. The choice of the type of window is guided by the desire to make the courtyard more or less permeable with respect to the residence. In fact, there is the possibility to opt for sliding windows that can replace the entire separation wall, totally opening the house outwards.
With regard to flooring, materials must be carefully chosen keeping in mind the function of the specific area and exposure to atmospheric agents. For example, an area subject to the walkway must be wear-resistant, non-slip and safe, while a relaxation area will be preferable in a light color so that the sun's rays are reflected avoiding excessive heating. If purely decorative inserts are provided on the patio, synthetic or real grass will be perfect, with more demanding maintenance but with greater benefits. It is also possible to use several different finishing materials depending on the use: for example, a fluid passage from flooring to grass or gravel will ensure an aesthetically pleasing result.

The green element in the design is certainly an added value that can make a difference from an environmental and psycho-physical comfort point of view. As mentioned above, it is possible to resort to artificial solutions that simplify maintenance over time, even if natural species return priceless benefits. The plant elements can be placed on the floor, in special vases or to fill pergolas and walls. The orientation of the patio and the local climate are decisive factors in the choice of green, but in any case it is preferable to opt for types that require simple management and resist direct sunlight. As regards the position of medium-low height plants and shrubs, it is preferable to place the species of larger dimensions along the perimeter of the patio and the smaller ones in front, in order to give the right depth by expanding the spatial perception. Thanks to the contribution of greenery, the private courtyard thus becomes a real microcosm between nature and built element. The resulting advantages are manifold: in addition to making the environment more welcoming and pleasant, users will enjoy physical, mental and environmental benefits.
If the patio is used as a continuation of the internal spaces of the house, it will have to meet functional and aesthetic needs. As the insertion of plants and flowers contributes substantially to the livability of the space, the addition of the water element characterizes its added value. The size of the intervention will determine the size of the patio and the needs of the residents: a private swimming pool can also be inserted in large spaces for those who want to use the patio as a garden for the summer. In the case of small areas, even just a detail such as a fountain or a small tub of water can contribute to the improvement of the domestic micro-climate and the creation of a pleasant atmosphere.

In order to make the most of the patio even during the evening and night, it will be necessary to equip it with correct artificial lighting. If areas with a different intended use are foreseen, it will be advisable to equip them with a different light intensity according to the need: for example, in the presence of support surfaces for the consumption of meals or for work, a greater brightness is required than to the relaxation areas for which soft lighting will be perfect. To this end, it is good to choose luminaires of different types and power: recessed spotlights in the floor for the paths, lanterns in correspondence with functional fulcrums and still bright mushrooms which, in addition to illuminating, heat the external environment making it usable even during the colder periods.

Illuminazione scenografica patio    Punti luce corrispondenza dei percorsi
Scenographic lighting of the patio area ( and lighting with light points in correspondence with the paths

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