enter image description here

Please take a look at the picture above. This is an inside area surrounded by apartment complex buildings. It contains parking space for the residents and a playground for kids.

What would be the proper name for this area? The best I could come up with so far is courtyard, or inside courtyard.

Sentences I'd like this to fit in:

Kids are playing in the _______ .

Where did you park the car? In the ________ .

Any help is very appreciated.

EDIT: The reason for a single word is I'm struggling with a Russian sentence, and they have a concise word for just such a thing. It's called dvor (literally "yard"), but its meaning encompasses what you see in the picture above.

This "dvor" is a colloquial term, not an official designation.

Edit #2: Thank you all for insightful answers. While I do not feel there's a single word that works as a perfect equivalent for "dvor", I'm going to accept "communal" (as in "communal parking lot" or "communal playground"), because this seems to capture Russian/Soviet mentality better, and was most useful to me in this specific instance.

  • 7
    Going by the picture, it seems too open and irregular shaped to be called a courtyard. I think you're provided your own answer, in a sense, in that you can refer to the park as a park and the parking areas as parking areas. Is there any specific reason why you'd need a single term to cover both?
    – Wolfie Inu
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 10:01
  • I'm struggling with a Russian sentence, and they have a concise word for just such a thing. It's called dvor (literally "yard"), but its meaning encompasses what you see in the picture above.
    – A.P.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 10:16
  • 1
    Makes sense, then. That's the most that Google can make of it, too: yard or courtyard. It doesn't seem to me to suit a case such as this one, but the terms do overlap.
    – Wolfie Inu
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 10:42
  • If it's for parking and recreation let's call it "Wrecks and Recs"
    – AllInOne
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 14:09
  • As an Australian, I've heard such spaces called 'the quad', as in 'quadrilateral'. Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 16:08

7 Answers 7


You could use the 'communal area'

Communal - adjective

1 - used or shared in common by everyone in a group: a communal jug of wine.

2 - of, by, or belonging to the people of a community; shared or participated in by the public: communal land; Building the playground was a communal project.


  • Thank you, I think "communal" (as in communal parking lot" or "communal playground") captures the reality quite well.
    – A.P.
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 10:05

It looks like a residential plaza to me.

plaza: (Chiefly AmEng) a public square, marketplace, or similar open space in a built-up area.


  • public square, marketplace..suggest more a public, larger place rather than a parking lot among condos, does it?
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 11:07
  • 1
    @Josh61 Not necessarily, Josh. As you can see here google.fr/…, the plaza is not that large.
    – Elian
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 11:38

I'd call it a square:

An open, typically four-sided, area surrounded by buildings in a village, town, or city: 'a market square' (--Oxford Dictionaries Online)

(No, they don't have to be 'square', even though they often are rectangular.)

  • It crossed my mind, too.
    – user140086
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 11:03
  • @JHCL Perhaps "residential square", then?
    – A.P.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 18:17
  • 1
    +1 for square. "Green" crossed my mind too, but I think the parking of cars excludes that definition. Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 18:28

Although it's always a matter of degree, generally a courtyard is more contained; see this architecture article about Chicago courtyard apartments, where the courtyards are more contained and don't have parking within them. See also this Google image search of apartment courtyards.

I assume you're looking for terms a real person would use in normal conversation (e.g. not "Residential Parking and Recreational Area").

Maybe it's because I'm from Texas, but I'd tend to refer to that as a plaza. I think "common area" would also be a common term. (Technically in an apartment all the non-private space is legally "common area" but when a normal person refers to it they tend to mean "the big chunk of it there in the middle.")

There's not really a single word for mixed-use parking and recreation; on most apartment complex maps I find by Googling they will just label that as the park or playground and it goes without comment there's parking around it - a visitor would say "I parked down by the playground" or similar. Naturally apartment complexes, in their poetic intent to make everything sound better, will name them various things - "it's the greenscape!" - but no one would know that unless they lived there and drank the Kool-Aid.

  • 1
    Thanks for your thoughts. I did do a Google image search before posting, and you're right, courtyards are typically more contained.
    – A.P.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 16:18

pocket park

enter image description here

Town Planning a very small park or area of greenery in an otherwise urban area. (OED)


Pocket parks, also known as minipark or vest-pocket parks, are urban open space at the very small scale. Usually only a few house lots in size or smaller, pocket parks can be tucked into and scattered throughout the urban fabric where they serve the immediately local population.

(University of Washington)

A pocket park is a small outdoor space, usually only a few house lots in size or smaller, most often located in an urban area surrounded by commercial buildings or houses on small lots with few places for people to gather, relax, or to enjoy the outdoors. They are also called vest pocket parks, a term first used in the 1960’s.
They also meet a variety of needs and functions, including: small event space, play areas for children, spaces for relaxing or meeting friends, taking lunch breaks, etc.

Discover Design

They may, or may not, have parking spaces around them. But a pocket park does not usually provide parking. And I don't think the parking spaces in your photo are "part of" the pocket park. Rather the pocket park is integrated into an urban area that includes parking spaces.

  • 1
    +1 even though I think the OP's picture is at best a very sad pocket park.
    – ab2
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 21:16
  • This is the most accurate term, but I'm not sure how well it would be understood outside of planning circles.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 12:59

I suggest "quad." Yes, the term is traditionally associated with university campuses, but "campus" has expanded to non-academic settings, such as Googleplex and Apple Campus.

Kids are playing in the quad.

Where did you park the car? In the quad.

"Communal" sounds odd as a noun. "Common" (or Commons) could work. Think "Boston Common." But like plaza and square, "common" has a more public meaning, but that may be appropriate for a Russian/Soviet application.


16. Often, commons. Chiefly New England. a tract of land owned or used jointly by the residents of a community, usually a central square or park in a city or town.



I think they are generally referred to as:

  • Residential Parking and Recreational Areas

I don't think that courtyard is an appropriate term for the space in the picture, though it might used colloquially by the residents:

  • An unroofed area that is completely or partially enclosed by walls or buildings, typically one forming part of a castle or large house. (ODO)

  • An open space surrounded by walls or buildings, adjoining or within a building such as a large house or housing complex. (AHD)

  • Thanks for your answer, but how would Residential Parking and Recreational Areas fit with my example sentences?
    – A.P.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 9:57
  • It is clearly an open public space used for parking and recreational activities, mainly by those living in the area. AHD definition, though less traditional that ODO's, still refers to a space surrounded by walls or buildings. The idea is of a closed , generally non-public place.
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 10:01

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