Access to natural light is one of the most basic and critical requirements for housing and quality of life. However, urban infill projects are constantly challenged with trying to provide an adequate amount of light, especially where lots are narrow and deep. In Chicago, the majority of six-flat housing stock is simply an extrusion of the site, subtracting the required minimum setbacks. The result is buildings where the greatest proportion of the façade flanks a narrow, dark alley between structures preventing rooms from gaining light or privacy and depending on the short front and rear facades for light and views.
In contrast, the well-known Chicago courtyard building typology is ideal for allowing light into a deep infill property. However, these early 1900s developments are typically found on three or more combined Chicago lots. The Courtyard Shift revisits the Chicago courtyard to meet modern standards on a smaller property.
Splitting and rotating the orientation of the typical six-flat allows a courtyard to be introduced in the middle of the lot and returns the majority of the facade to the gain of light for each unit, while it also provides a reprieve between structures on adjacent lots. This design reconsiders the redundancy of units by providing a diversity of apartment sizes and arrangements for a variety of users and lifestyles. More than a singular entity, the Courtyard Shift can be mirrored and multiplied to amplify the open area between buildings, offering opportunities to share courtyards and strengthen communities.