CourtHomes for America

The CourtHome is a North American suburban housing system intended as a lower energy, medium-density, and more sustainable alternative to the low-density detached “single-family” suburban house.
CourtHomes are attached, both side-to-side and back-to-back, by means of party walls, and they have private courtyards instead of backyards and sideyards. They still have front yards, private parking for one or two cars, and generous interior rooms; the very things that makes suburban living attractive to a majority of North Americans. Yet their urban density is three times that of a neighborhood of similarly-sized detached houses. Same life-style, but more affordable, since they use only a third of the land. Greater density also means that commutes become shorter and less gridlocked, since public transportation becomes much more feasible. The use of party walls means less winter heat loss and less summer heat gain through exterior walls. All these factors amount to a significant saving in energy use.
The CourtHome is nothing new. It is based on an ancient Roman housing type: the “patio house”. In fact, Spanish colonists introduced this type of house in America centuries ago. Examples can still be seen in places like Santa Fe, NM. But this housing type has been updated here to better respond to the challenges currently facing North American suburbia: affordability, energy use, and urban sprawl.
The six different CourtHome models that comprise the system
A CourtHome ensemble

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

Architect, educator and writer. Partner at ArqEstructura. Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. Blogger at criticalista.com.

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