My current obsession is having a tree in the house. I don’t mean interior plants in pots but having a mature tree taller than one storey planted in the ground.
Nature has always been my inspiration and the lockdown forced by Covid-19 only showed us how important it is to connect with nature.
Internal courtyards are traditionally common in the Middle East and East Asia. It’s not surprising you will find great modern interpretation in these areas.
Here is one of my favourites from a project in Osaka, Japan designed by SAI Architectural Design Office. The building has a modest footprint with the interior width of 3.9m.
However, thanks to a double height internal courtyard in the middle of the house with a gravel pit containing a full height tree, it immediately makes you feel you are in touch with nature.
(Source: Yellow Trace)
The second project I am sharing is again from Japan, a small house in Shiga by Hearth Architects.
The tree in this house is in the area traditionally called ‘doma’ in Japan. A doma (meaning ‘dirt area’) is a transitional space between indoors and outdoors where you take your shoes off. The doma in this house is double height and you can admire only the bottom half of the tree while being in the dining room and would need to step out to see the full scale of the tree. Framing the view and playing with a scale make you feel you are stepping outdoors while being inside.
Do you feel it’s not for the long and narrow houses many of us live in the UK?
I have a perfect position in mind for typical period houses. If you live in a narrow terraced house and haven’t done a side extension yet, a space just outside of the side return would be perfect to have a double height tree as it’s directly outside a bedroom window of the first floor.
A challenge will be planning – a lot of councils don’t allow the first floor extension to enclose the space where I’d have a tree in the side extension. However, I have seen applications with the first floor extension being approved and even if you don’t get a planning approval, we could still have a courtyard with a tall tree and build an extension around it.
I am always exploring new ways to bring outside in. A large tree in the house would be an ultimate luxury for those of us living in a compact house in a big city.
Would anyone be up for it? I would love to hear what you think.
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