An atrium is an open central court in a space. It was initially identified in houses of ancient Rome and later in Christian basilicas. Vitruvius named 4 types of atriums based on the typology observed then, namely: atrium testudinatum, atrium tuscanicum, atrium tetrastylicum, atrium corinthicum.
It started taking its modern form in the late 19th century with the industrial revolution and courtyards being replaced by atriums around the world. Contemporary atriums are found in almost all building typologies, with varying spatial features—from materials used to the height of an atrium.
Let’s look at 20 such examples. Atriums found in homes across the world have been broadly classified into the following 4 types.
1. Gambier Island GI04
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Architects: Heather Howat and David Battersby
The house is planned around central natural vegetation found on site. The atrium fills the home with natural light and warmth.
2. Family House Litvínovice
Location: Czech Republic
Architects: A11 Studio
This open to sky atrium is designed to create a sense of seclusion from the world. It has an outdoor bath and can accommodate a hammock, almost like an in-house picnic spot.
3. Villa Mosca Bianca
Architects: Design Haus Liberty
The central atrium of this home acts as a focal point and also houses a rainwater harvesting system. The operable glazing on top allows passive ventilation for the large rooms surrounding the home.
4. Glass House in the Garden
Architects: Flavin Architects
This atrium is a part of a cabin in the woods designed as a part of the tiny house movement. It’s the focal point of the space and accommodates a tree found on site.
5. P House
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Architects: HAHN Design
This atrium is designed keeping in mind the principles of feng shui, in terms of material use and orientation. The atrium is planned along the entrance to create a warm and welcoming environment.
Atriums surrounded by stairs and passages
6. House K
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
The home is inspired by a snails’ shell and hence all spaces are planned around the central atrium spiraling along the axis. The atrium was also designed to compensate for the lack of sunlight in the space.
7. Sullens Residence
Location: New York City
Architects: SPAN Architecture
This atrium sits within a duplex home in New York, surrounded by glass etched passages and a staircase. The loft-like residence is designed using rich materials that make the atrium voluminous.
8. Water Factory
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Architects: Minimal interventions by architect Andrew Simpson
The warehouse turned home, had a deep footprint and was poorly oriented. To optimize the situation, the architect planned this atrium to facilitate light and ventilation by providing a skylight and planning a staircase around it to make the space functional.
9. House B7
Location: Agra, India
Architects: flying seeds Studio
The double-height atrium in this home was designed to act as a congregation space for the multi-generational family that the house is a home to. The staircase winding around it makes it accessible to all.
10. 432 Citrus
Location: LA, California
Architects: Prime Five Homes
The central atrium, a common feature in this development, helps in lengthening the living room vertically and creates a light well that fills both the upstairs and downstairs areas with bright daylight.