Housing typology: clusters, groupings and courtyards

Learn about clusters, groupings and courtyards and their roles.

A close-up shot of a few homes with white walls and dark grey roofs against a bright blue sky. A leafless tree and a collection of houses are pictured in the background.
Published: 21/01/2017

Through built examples, this piece explores a sample of housing formed around courtyards, into clusters, or otherwise composed as groups.

Illustrated by mapping, photography and scale drawings, our aim is to show the link between design of the house and the place of which it forms a part.

The case study:

  • defines clusters, groupings and courtyards
  • looks at their various roles
  • explores built examples in Bo’ness, Newmilns and Perth

Case study: housing typology – clusters, groupings and courtyards

Read the full case study to learn more about the typology, including its roles and several built examples.

What are clusters, groupings and courtyards?

The farm steading and urban court continue to provide models for composing and grouping contemporary housing. These are tried and tested adaptations to Scottish social, climatic and topographic conditions, whether in urban, coastal or rural contexts.

Combining shelter and enclosure with common outdoor space, housing in clusters can contribute to meeting local policy objectives for townscape and sustainable design.

Roles of clusters, groupings and courtyards

The re-emerging success of clustered housing can be attributed to the useful roles this typology plays. For example, clustered housing:

  • is an efficient and economic use of land through common driveways
  • provides supervised space for children to play
  • provides climatic shelter


A large courtyard with one car parked in front of three houses that overlook a popular local garden. It is a cloudless day.

Muirhouses Square, Bo’ness

Muirhouses Square is an enlarged courtyard grouping of homes overlooking and activating a popular local garden well used by immediate and surrounding residents. The square is organised as a home zone where pedestrian use is prioritised through a shared surface, visitor parking is integrated, and the space is animated by street trees, a distinctive tiled wall and public seating. Find other examples in the full case study, linked below.

Header image credit: Page\Park Architects

Explore more housing typologies

Our housing typology series illustrates where designers have sought to reconcile contemporary living with the wider roles of the individual house integral to placemaking. Through built examples, from East Ayrshire to the Shetland Islands, we explore the terrace, topographic and climate responses, adaptables, and more.

Read more