I am looking for an English word to describe a house that is square or rectangular but has a hollow center similar to a courtyard. Looking online I can only find links for houses in my area and other such search results. It is very difficult to find pictures for the type of house so below is a floor plan of the type of house I am referring to.

Floor Plan of House.

Thank you in advance!

  • 1
    Similar to a en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_villa or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domus but I don't know what they're called when built these days. Aug 29, 2017 at 1:05
  • 1
    It's a very uncommon design in most parts of the US. Obviously impractical in places with a lot of snow, etc. Googling around a bit I see that "courtyard style" is used, but often refers to designs other than the fully enclosed courtyard shown in the above drawing.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 29, 2017 at 1:14
  • Does that court have a roof or not? I think Steve and Hot assumed not.
    – GEdgar
    Aug 29, 2017 at 1:44
  • The court does not have to have a roof. From the research I've done there can be roofs for the courtyard. It was usually the wealthy Romans that built these types of houses. Having a roof over the courtyard is essentially the same, but it meant you were of a lower class. I just don't know the name for the type of architecture. @Steve described the type of house of Roman Villa, but it doesn't give the name of the type of architecture. Aug 29, 2017 at 1:54
  • Unless all houses with courtyards are just called Roman Villas. But those types of houses are not exclusive to the Romans. Aug 29, 2017 at 1:54

3 Answers 3


It seems to be called an atrium house. See Best 20+ Atrium House Ideas on Pinterest for pictures of modern houses built around an atrium. If you were to hire an architect to design you such a house, you might start off by saying you wanted an atrium house.

If you have a big budget, you might want something like the Loma House. The Loma House is not called an atrium house in this article from Arch Daily, but is one of the 20+ Atrium Houses on Pinterest.

(I wanted to put a picture in this answer, but was unable to do so.)


Here's a photo of a house with an atrium, defined in the accompanying article as an open space surrounded by the house.

The Eichler houses became especially popular in the late 1950s (and on) in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they were relatively simply built; they are now much sought after, sort of a revival.

Eichler with atrium


Courtyard House (House and Garden, 1959)

Hacienda (Spanish style Courtyard house)

Courtyard view of the Hacienda de San Antonio (19th century coffee plantation house)

Sometimes called a Mexican Villa (George Clooney's courtyard beach house).

A very classy Mid-century Modern Courtyard style house.

Traditional Japanese Courtyard style house is called a Nālukettu.

The traditional architecture is typically a rectangular structure where four halls are joined together with a central courtyard open to the sky.

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