ARCH 505B: Graduate Architecture Design I Gallery: Clusters and Aggregates: Housing and Urbanism

Five Courtyards

The initial design research for the project involved looking at asymmetrical grid formations as a way to create outdoor communal spaces of various sizes and proportions. The Piet Mondrian painting “Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey, and Blue” (1921), served as a frame of reference for developing a field condition diagram that contains five courtyards, each with a different program and orientation.

Instead of the usual site planning approach that begins with a figure on a ground, an attempt was made to locate the open spaces first and then place several one- and two-story L-bars of dwelling units adjacent to the various courtyards to capture various types of natural light and prevailing breezes.

Ten lightwells and solar chimneys further amplify these intentions, serving to modulate sunlight in different ways—cast, reflected, and filtered, as well as to provide cooling by exhausting hot air. Finally, the light/cooling towers create a distinctive roofscape or silhouette and give the houses an identity that is both individual and collective.