The Courtyard House

Lead DesignerLim Cheng Kooi
Prize(s)Honorable Mention
Entry Description

Though situated within an exclusive Good Class residential area, the land is surrounded by densely built neighborhood without much exciting views. The owner, a ‘Hakka’ descendent, envisions having a large communal home built for his growing family, multiple guests and frequent gathering among the siblings. Inspired by the Courtyard House, a symbolic design feature for the Hakka ethnic similar to the Hakka Walled Village in China, the house is designed to be inward looking for three generations to live under one roof.
Moving beyond the intentions of the typical ‘L’-shaped plan, the U shape plan courtyard house provides strongly delineated edges to nearly contain the outdoor space. Typically, the principle rooms are arranged around a central courtyard with sunlight and airflow permeating through both sides of each room. A clear separation of living and sleeping spaces can be achieved while allowing all rooms’ direct link to the same external space. The ‘U’ – Shaped plan, consisting of 2 wings (East & West) framing the central courtyard that depicts a traditional Hakka Courtyard House. This does not only helps secure the sense of belonging and privacy but also strengthens the visual link between its major internal spaces and outdoor courtyard.
The main entrance is placed strategically, allowing one to be welcomed within the central courtyard before entering the internal space. Still adopting the Hakka architecture concept, the courtyard is treated as part of the room that allows the owner to further extend their activity from indoor to outdoor flawlessly. The flexibility and the interchangeable usage of central courtyard reflect the spaces used in traditional Hakka’s courtyard house while the water feature flowing around the perimeter of the courtyard, symbolizes calm and also functions as natural cooling system.


Founded in 2006, AR43 Architects Pte Ltd is an award winning design firm which has completed a wide range of works ranging commercial, hospitality, institutional, custom-designed residences to interior architecture projects around Asia. The firm is lead by founder Lim Cheng Kooi who has more than 20 years of experience in the field and many of his past works received awards especially recognition through publications in top architectural journals. Well-featured projects include a bungalow project at 21 Jervois Hill for which AR43 received an Honorary Mentioned Design Awards at the 10th SIA Architectural Design Awards 2010.

The hallmarks of AR43 design work lies in it acknowledging a responsibility to the built environment, understanding both the physical and emotional reconstructive potential of architecture. The firm’s works reflect simplicity in its use of basic compositional and geometric elements, specifically without any pretence or fixed style. Each design evolves around a synthesis of site and program, experimenting with a variety of architectural interpretations and ultimately builds within client’s ordinary budgets in extraordinary ways.