The Similarities and Differences Between a Mesopotamian ‘Courtyard’ and a Roman ‘Peristyle’ House

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The similarities and differences between the design, construction and environmental performance of a typical Mesopotamian ‘courtyard’ and a Roman ‘peristyle’ house

The idea of courtyard goes back to Neolithic Times. It was conceived for such needs as providing protection from natural forces : weather, wild life or human invasions. Later on, it was transformed in functional architecture that can be characterized by its design, structure and environment uses. Apart from its climatic functions, the cultural aspect has the same importance.

Vittirio Gregotti is describing the courtyard as an architectural act par excellence saying :”The enclosure not only establishes a specific relationship with a specific place but is the principle by
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The main purpose of the Roman Perystile was of a garden or a beautiful arranged place, where people were able to have walks or spend time outside the house on their own property. The columns were built with two aims, the first one was for supporting the roof, and the second one to create a beautiful architectural space, filled with specific roman details. Contrarily, for the Mesopotamians, this place were designed only for technical and functional purposes that were supposed to bring sun light and fresh air into the house, or to keep the temperature cool.

Mesopotamians had the tendency to build their courtyards hidden from the front door view. In order to protect their house from street dust, they were placing them behind the corner of the passage. First view from the entrance of an Roman house was the garden, that invited guests to spend time there.

Climate had a big impact on architecture, therefore as a response to the hot-humid temperatures, Mesopotamian courtyards were designed to control the circulation and cooling. Cool air was channeled by night, by noon rising hot air was used in order to create cooling convention currents, and by afternoon sun position permitted to created shadows, thus to create more cool currents. This helps to maintain a normal temperature in summer. The organization was appropriate to that specific climate as it contributed to creating of a pleasant microclimate by cooling and humidifying the internal
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