Wong Griffin Residence – Courtyard

  • Paul C

    Great in detail segment. I particularly like this one for its focus on a part of residential design, which in my view is sometimes simply left out or left to the end. Having spaces like these are such a simple and effective way of adding living spaces which support the notion of maybe smaller overall interior requirements, it provides connection to the environment and neighborhood and a means of transition from public to private. By comparison, the all too common token rear deck on a walk-out basement somehow just doesn’t cut it. The resurgence of “real” porches is better though. I echo your thoughts in thinking that Louis has demonstrated very good examples in the photos as well as his concepts. Even this week’s WWWTH segment he employed, what I like to call, an “espresso” courtyard, transforming a small outdoor space into something quite nice.

  • Terri

    Hello John,
    I see how your New York example with the “room” off to one side of the deck could be modified for the Wong Griffin townhome quite nicely. I’ve seen plants used similarly as screens to create private outdoor spaces, but in Texas water could be an issue. These simple “blind-like” slats are most suitable for Texas, where the elimination of some sun is good (sun which affects not only people but any upholstery on the outdoor furniture). Such a private space would probably be used year-round, offering a quiet, reading space.

    I was wondering, if you designed a similar space for this townhome, would you place the outdoor “room” with its roof on the east or west side of the deck? I’m thinking the barbecue needs to be as close to the door opening as possible, in order to cut down on the distance travelled with food from and to the kitchen/dining area. At the same time the steps leading down to the back gate need to be accomodated.

  • Terri

    John, Sorry, I guess I should have double-checked your plan before my last query! I see now where the outdoor furniture is placed. Would the roofed part extend right to the staircase then? I was also imagining a screening from the neighbour’s terrace, so possibly a simple slatted wall with a few tall, drought-resistant plants could be part of the deck’s west edge.

  • John Brown


    You are correct that the issue for this rear terrace is controlling the heat gain from the sun -both into the house though the rear windows and onto the deck from both the south sun and the west.

    A raised garden wall on the west side is critical for the west light. An overhang, canopy, or awning is important for the south light.

    The slat wall idea from Paul Cha’s project would be one way of achieving this. However, the span across the entire width of the terrace would probably be too great for this kind of structure without some kind of column in the middle of the deck. My concern is that the columns would create some functional problems with circulation and access.

  • Louis Pereira

    John – I was going to suggest that you could, in the case of your deck layout, do something like the attached (Image 1)…using a combination steel i-beam to span the width of the deck. The steel ‘arm’ could rest on the shared fence (if allowed) with a combined wood scrim. This would resolve the issue of having a column in the middle of the deck and would seemingly extend the width of the space.

    I like using a combination of steel and wood when designing these types of outdoor structures. I’ve included a similar proposal of a design i did recently for a client which may better illustrate the intent(Image2)


  • John Brown

    Thank you for the follow up. That is a nice idea and I agree with you about the use of steel and wood.

    I particularly like the way that it allows the slat roof to stop midway across the terrace without looking unfinished. I suppose in the case of the design project terrace the beam would be supported by the garage wall rather than the column.

  • Danyel

    I just found you a few days ago, and the first time i entered i could see the video what’s wrong with this house, but now when i try to view anything it just ain’t appear anything on the screen and i can’t hit the play button, because i don’t see it. what should i do? thanks