A cloister is a type of covered walkway, typically found in religious buildings such as convents, monasteries, or cathedrals. Cloisters often have a colonnade to one side, opening onto a quadrangle or garth (a cloister garden). They are also found in some colleges such as those at Oxford and Cambridge. The word cloister is derived from the Latin ‘claustrum’, meaning ‘enclosure’.
In Roman architecture, they were known as a 'peristyle'. A shady roofed portico was supported by the columns or square pillars surrounding the garden. The inner walls were often decorated with landscape paintings or trompe l'oeil architecture. The courtyard often contained flowers and shrubs, fountains, benches, sculptures, and ponds.
Medieval cloisters, widely associated with monasteries, were used to separate monks from servants and workers, enabling them to live a ‘cloistered’ life, free from distraction.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Four ways in which smart cities could make our lives better.
Mayor Sadiq Khan announces new Greener City Fund in drive to make London the first 'National Park City'.
BSRIA announce UKAS accreditation for sound absorption testing.
The full terms of reference are published for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
Read our introductory article into the role and practice of the architect.
Despite dividing opinion since its 1955 completion, Stalin's gift to Poland, the PKiN, is still Warsaw's most recognisible landmark.
Graduate Engineer Brittany Harris asks, what makes a great place to work?
Mayor Sadiq Khan publishes new guidance aimed at fast-tracking affordable housing projects through planning.
An estimated 90% of our time is spent inside, so could urban allotments be the answer to increasing health and wellbeing?
Why disputes occur and how they can be avoided.
Understand each building and its needs before exploring technical solutions and hiring consultants.
‘Device to Root Out Evil’ - an upside-down, New England-style church built with its steeple in the ground.