The garden house in the city
By Christos09-10-2020Popularity:3020 Comments


Bringing nature back to the city although not a new idea it is a growing imperative especially for cities like Nicosia, Cyprus, which has failed to make greenery and communal public areas a priority in its urban planning. With the ‘’garden house in the city’’  we would like to emphasise how much potential there is for urban gardens and for the creation of microclimates which could improve the living conditions within cities and slow global warming. A house that brings nature back to the city, promoting shared spaces and social dialogue between its residents is what inspired us to design the ‘’garden house’’.

During our lockdown we rediscovered the essential value of our houses, realizing once again our need for more outdoor areas, balconies and roof tops to exercise and practise our hobbies. The need to freely breakout to enjoy open-air spaces and connect with nature and neighbours has become more desirable than ever during the pandemic. But again the virus issue came only to emphasize what is already known though systematically forgotten and ignored, the urge to accelerate the process of incorporating nature in our cities in creative ways.

Design theory and application

The integration of a singular house into the urban fabric is always a challenge but it can function in positive ways, first as a unifying element that may promotes urban continuity and second as a pocket of greenery improving biodiversity in the city. 

In contrast with other urban houses built to isolate themselves from the rest of the neighbourhood erecting fences and various barriers our proposal aimed to form a physical continuation of the public green area that exists on the longest side of the plot.  The design seeks to establish a unified relationship between the neighbourhood, the private garden and the public green area. In this way urban elements such as building, street and public space are not treated as absolute activities in isolation but as one single homogeneous configuration. The house becomes part of  the park and the park is included in the house, in a sense the two are interrelated with  shared places such as the pedestrian pathway, the garden, the veranda , the door threshold ect. and are considered as elements of one big house-like city.

A long slim 24m glazed sliding door system fully opens  up to the south-east orientation to capture the views of the garden, the park and the city but also enhance uninterrupted connections between indoor and nature.  These glazed doors not only separate the spaces inside but when are open the whole house behaves as one single space connected by gardens.  The integration of green areas into the house incorporates the planting of gardens on 60% of the ground floor, the use of green terrace on first floor, the provision of bee-friendly landscapes and 40 kinds of native wildflowers.  All areas inside flow on the outer spaces and are organized around a green central courtyard placed in-between two white cubic volumes. 

Making space for nature in the city not only brings beauty to the urban fabric but encourages the return of local bird species and bees maintaining thus urban biodiversity; furthermore it promotes human health and well-being. We believe our proposal highlights nature's beauty in our urban lives, as a result, it creates a new standard of a healthier lifestyle in the city as well as introducing a breath of tranquillity into the neighbourhood. When landscape becomes concept there are no boundaries.


The façade has operable sliding panels with louvers made of aluminium. These offer protection from the unbearable Mediterranean direct sunlight but also provide privacy from the close proximity neighbourhood; in the winter panels may slide back so that the winter sun warms the interior. Some panels have operable louvers which may let fresh air drawn into the house while the panels are in the closed position. 

On ground floor the long projected first floor slab protects ground floor interior from the direct south-east sun but also is used as a green terrace for the upper floor which helps to reduce heat load gains during summer.  

The green courtyard becomes an intermediate space functioning both as an important regulator of the temperature inside but also as means of communicating. It serves to create the solar chimney effect as cool, fresh air is drawn into the house from cooler North whilst the heated air rises and exhausted out to the top throughout the open stairwell. Cross ventilation is maintained throughout the house as selected openings on the north /south axis produce a gentle cooling effect.

All major functions of the house (cooling, heating and supply of hot water) operate on electricity which is supplied by 8 photovoltaic panels grid-connected to the main supplier. Any excess power produced is sold back to the supplier. Solar collectors are used for hot water and also provide part of the warm water needed for the under- floor heating. Connecting the two systems together (solar panels and photovoltaic) to the heat pump further increases energy savings.

key: green architecture, design
  • Name:Christos Pavlou
  • Country:Cyprus
  • Specialty: Residential
  • Position:director
  • Introduction: Christos Pavlou architecture studio was found by Christos Pavlou in 2003 and is based in Nicosia, Cyprus. Is a small...
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