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Last edited 11 Nov 2021
The courtyard at Chatsworth House is used to display sculpture.
'Courtyard' is a term used to describe an area that is open to the sky but surrounded by a building (or buildings) or walls. The word court and yard originate from the same Latin term which roughly translates to enclosed space.
In the Mesopotamian region of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, complex systems of urban planning were developed from the 10th millennium BC to the 6th century BC. These communities incorporated building styles that introduced some of the earliest examples of courtyard homes. Courtyard homes are structures that place the living quarters around the open, central courtyard.
In these structures, some of the rooms had doors that led directly into the light and private courtyard. This served as a place for eating, cooking, sleeping, gardening, keeping animals, socialising and other activities. In hotter climates, the currents created in a courtyard sometimes provided a cooler environment.
In medieval times, inns and public buildings had courtyards that sometimes served as meeting places. This usage eventually contributed to other meanings of the word, “court”, for example, describing activities associated with the resolution of legal disputes. For more information see: Court.
Modern courtyards are sometimes found in urban housing communities with multiple separate residences. They provide open - but protected - spaces that can be used by families who seek safe locations for their children to play.
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