Creating a Glazed Courtyard – Ideas and Inspiration

How can a glazed courtyard enhance your next project? Read on for our courtyard extension ideas, along with some tips and tricks on how to achieve a luxurious finish in true Cantifix style.


10 Mar 2023


Simon McAuliffe

High end residential courtyard with frameless glass walls and Sky-Frame sliding doors

As we’ve spoken about many times, the benefits of natural light are now well-researched and documented, and the case is clear for ensuring we all get as much access to daylight as possible. In fact, new research reveals that when renovating, 27% of homeowners are looking to create a more contemporary space with an abundance of natural light. 


For architects, the demand for open-plan, bright spaces has never been greater. Clients are looking for an enhanced connection to the outdoors, increased access to natural light, and homes that feel light, open and airy. Whilst glass extensions and open plan living areas can all help to achieve this, an internal glazed courtyard is becoming an increasingly popular option amongst construction professionals and homeowners alike.


What is a glazed courtyard?

A glazed courtyard provides an outdoor space within the heart of a property – one that is private, secure and well ventilated.


This current trend in modern architecture takes its inspiration from the past, where internal courtyards were included more for function than aesthetics. Living quarters would be built on all sides of a central open area, which was open to the sky to allow smoke from the fire to escape. In larger properties these open areas also served the purpose of collecting rainwater, disposing of waste and even somewhere to keep livestock safe. 

With progress through history, along with technological advancements, people were able to enjoy more leisure time. This created changes in the way that internal courtyards were used, often being turned into heavily manicured gardens with fountains and seating areas. This vision is the reason glazed courtyards are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, rather than the need to keep our livestock safe.


Today, architects across the world are choosing to emulate our ancestors in their designs, and we are receiving more enquiries about glazed courtyards than ever before. One such example is the ‘Sun Rain Room’, created by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu when they decided to stylishly remodel their home.

So, why have these solutions become so popular and what are their benefits?

Why choose a glazed courtyard?

Whilst there are many exciting and innovative glazing solutions on the market today – ranging from glass floors, roofs and walls – a glazed courtyard is arguably the most effective solution for bringing daylight right into the centre of the building. Even if the internal glazed courtyard is only small, it can promote huge benefits to the lifestyle and wellbeing of the inhabitants.


To maximise the benefits of these outdoor/indoor courtyards they obviously need to be enclosed in high performance glazing, with sliding or hinged panels for access and ventilation. In architecture, glass has always been a popular and luxurious product to incorporate into a scheme. With today’s technological advances glass can be incorporated in many new and exciting ways, even when the design is an echo of the past. All the rooms adjoining the courtyard will be bathed in natural light, have a connection with nature, be linked with other spaces in the house and even have fascinating glimpses of old and new parts of the property .


This can be particularly beneficial for older properties – for example, Victorian terraced townhouses can be dark, enclosed spaces, as they tend to be taller and narrower. Whilst many of them feature fantastic new extensions at the rear, the centre of the house can be gloomy and underused. By including a glass-walled courtyard in your house renovation, architects can bring in a tunnel of natural light to the deep centre of a building, whilst simultaneously having a major impact on darker, windowless spaces such as basements.


Internal courtyards not only flood a space with daylight, but also bring the outside in more effectively than a standard glass box, or bifold doors, would. By creating a visible place for plants and trees, a glazed courtyard can create a relaxing and inviting space by providing an oasis of calm, health-giving greenery. Interior courtyards can benefit from a microclimate, which can provide the perfect opportunity to grow exotic plants, install a living wall or design a minimalist Japanese garden.


Plus, using moving elements of glazing – like full height sliding doors – provide natural ventilation as well as light. If good quality thermal glass is specified, this can help a house to stay appropriately warm or cool without the need for heaters or air conditioning, which in turn will save on energy costs.


Finally, if we refer back to our earlier comment on the benefits of natural light, interior courtyards also have the potential to have positive effects on our health and wellbeing. Research has shown that being in a green environment, with access to the outdoors, can put us in a better mood, regulate circadian rhythms, reduce fatigue, increase our attention span, and improve productivity. 

With data reporting that we are now spending close to 90% of our lives indoors, there has never been a better time for glazed courtyards to become a more prominent feature of architectural designs. As a result, architects can be sure that they are creating the buildings of the future – ‘healthy’ buildings that will contribute to physical and psychological wellbeing.

Indoor swimming pool with flush threshold glazing
Crane lifting double glazed unit between two buildings

Final Thoughts

Whilst the central parts of buildings – particularly terraced homes or townhouses – tend to be the darkest, most underused spaces – an interior glazed courtyard or garden can enhance access to daylight, fresh air and nature. 


In turn, this provides a number of benefits for the residents: it not only looks aesthetically stunning, but can also connect internal spaces, increase access to nature, bring the outdoors in, flood a space with natural light and therefore access to vitamin D, and improve ventilation. Now we have a better understanding of the effect that natural light has on the way we feel and behave, the buildings we spend so much time in are central to improving our rapidly advancing modern existence – and glazing has a huge role to play in this.


If you need help with specifying a glazed courtyard for your next project, get in touch with us today.