Optimising courtyard housing design for solar radiation within dense urban environments
The potential of energy-conscious traditional design of dwellings has been recognised with its direct and sometimes sophisticated response to local climatic conditions in recent years. Courtyard forms, which provide heat, light, ventilation and other functions for buildings surrounding it, are found in many high density urban environments around the world. This current study focuses on one of the solutions which can contribute to embodying the energy-conscious tradition. As an issue of how buildings respond to the different climate arises on a global scale, emphasis is placed on regional urban courtyard housing, for which design proposals are made, with special reference to Seoul, Korea (latitude 37.34° N). Apart from acting as climatic modifiers through solar access, courtyard housing forms can offer spatial and visual amenities to otherwise monotonous urban plan buildings. The aim of this study is to gain an understanding of the relationship between courtyard design and solar radiation in a densely built housing development. The parametric study examines the possibilities of varying housing layout factors in courtyard design, such as housing density, plot dimension, housing development scale and housing orientation, thereby suggesting guidelines for suitable ranges of the design parameters of courtyard housing. By these means, a density objective in urban area can be achieved with certain parameters with a potential to form energy-conscious courtyard design. Solutions for optimising the use of solar energy in courtyard housing layout in future housing development are categorised into (1) efficient layout planning, which include the range of optimum use of the housing layout factors and storey height under land use policy, and (2) passive courtyard housing form, which respond to urban housing layouts. Implications of the design strategies for planners, designers and local authorities are then outlined, including design guidelines.