Renovations to Courtyard

  • Renovations to courtyard at the rear of 11 Cora Terrace, Central, Port Elizabeth.

  • Client: Private
    Architects: The Workplace Architects
    Contractors: Design and Cost Studio
    Interior Design: The Workplace Architects
    Location of Project: 11 Cora Terrace, Central, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
    Date of Completion: 2011

11 Cora Terrace, Central


This project involves the alteration of an existing courtyard at the rear of one of the existing heritage significant row houses on Cora Terrace to make it more functional and liveable. Primarily, the courtyard was envisioned as an inside/outside space (perhaps more outside than inside) and as separate from the original building (circa 1860). In the past it has been an underused area and thoroughfare space divided into smaller portions by several rear courtyard intrusions. Historically the rear of the house would have been used by staff and for keeping animals.

Due to this separateness and lack of regular use, a simple proposal for an unobstructed courtyard space with some shelter and the practicalities of services and storage to one side was required, whilst keeping an indoor playroom space for children, which could double up as an entertainment area, as part of the’outside’ courtyard.

To unify these two areas, a single floor surface of "Astroturf" carpeting has been applied that results in the courtyard and the playroom immediately reading as one continuous space, with the floor surface being appropriate for both areas. Translucent roof sheeting was placed over the playroom space with slatted shading to the underside, defining the overhead plane. Timber and glass stack–away doors are placed between the courtyard and the playroom, so that when open, allow for a larger single space.
One of the characteristics of these row houses are the ‘out-houses’ to the rear of the properties. The traditional toilet block to 11 Cora Terrace was extended and timber clad thereby creating concealed store rooms. The interior store room is used for household appliances and children’s toys that are usually in the way in a small house, while the exterior storeroom conveniently hides dustbins and tools. These services and the concealed bathroom are composed as a rectangular ‘loose’ element under the courtyard roof and are detailed as a contemporary element and minimally, in contrast to the existing more decorative late Georgian Style building.

In heritage terms, the approach taken for this work responds appropriately to contemporary heritage theory and leading guideline documentation. It responds to the Venice Charter’s ideas of additions to historic structure’s to be of their own time and to be distinguishable from the original as well as responding to the more contemporary ideas relating to ‘authenticity’ noted in The Nara Document and most recent Burra Charter.

Simply this modest courtyard alteration, on a limited budget, attempts to satisfy two heritage concerns by altering the existing roof and outhouse to the rear, there is increased clarity between the three part of the structure that are now visually discernible and the original ‘left over’ outdoor space on the rear courtyard in redefined as a primary space to the house.