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
What will the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) mean for you when they come into force in May?
Business Secretary chairs a new taskforce to monitor and advise on mitigating the impacts of Carillion’s liquidation.
Sir John Armitt is appointed the new chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.
High quality and high density homes - is it what we need or is it storing up trouble?
Government announces its intention to strengthen planning rules to protect music venues and neighbours.
National Audit Office reports that there is little evidence that PFI offers better value than other forms of contracting.
What is liquidation and how does it apply to contractors in the construction industry?
Scrutiny is placed on Carillion's controversial 2013 decision to extend subcontractor payment terms to 120 days.
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.