Courtyard House

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Courtyard houses Tunisia

MATOMATA...The large pit becomes a courtyard as a real-life setting. The public courtyard is on the bottom of the pit, and each house faces it...
Courtyard houses in Matmata, Underground homes.

The structures typical for the village are created by digging a large pit (the depth is approximately 10m) in the ground. Around the perimeter of this pit artificial caves are then dug to be used as rooms.

If you go down the stairs from the avobe ground, a courtyard will suddenly appear in front of you...

Many courtyards are in this area, so if you walk around this area at night, you might fall into the pit.

Some of the parts are now used for hotels, and the place is famous for the filming of the Star Wars...

I made a plan of the Matmata courtyard house in Tunisia...

MATOMATA...The large pit becomes a courtyard as a real-life setting. The public courtyard is on the bottom of the pit, and each house faces it...

Each courtyard has lived-in feel.

Courtyard used as a hotel


GUERMESSA/Troglodyte houses which are formed by digging stratum. There are two types of stratums, one is firm, the other one is soft, Hence, the houses are crammed side by side along the stratums. Black dots 1/3 from the top of the photo are openings of each house.

AQUE DU ROMEIN/ The aqueduct bridge was built in Roman times. The above photo shows a point of departure. There are some ruins of Roman times in this area.

Entrance of a tunnel

KSAR HADADA/Grain warehouses. They are not in use, but some of them are used as hotels for tourists.

GHOUMRASSEN/There are some grain warehouses in this village.

CHENINI/Troglodyte houses are in the middle of a mountain. It is same as the above photo. The inhabitants have scratched out a life for themselves ,because they have lived in a harsh and lonely environment to hide from invaders

Is is easy to understand, if you compare the aqueduct bridge to the car in the center of the photo.
Map of Tunisia
Map of the Mediterranean area.
Villages and cities in Italy #1, Italy #2, Spain, Morocco #1, Morocco #2, Algeria, Tunisia.

The history of courtyard of Matmata

Matmata is located 20 km away from the largest oasis city called Gabes in Tunisia.

Berber driven by Bedouins settled in this Matmata region a long time ago. They created underground cave styled villages which were shaped by dug stratum.
However, it was difficult to get water and to make farmlands. Hence, new villages were created around the source of water. People of mixed Berber and Arabic parentage increased during this term.
In addition, they enlarged their residential area from mountains to flat lands. As a result, the villages of courtyard styled underground home were formed there.

The feature of Matmata courtyard house is to look around the courtyards from every hole on the ground. The pits of entrance play a part in small plazas for each residential group.

The diameter of the courtyards and the depth of the courtyards are approximately 10m respectively, and around the perimeter of the courtyards are dug to be used as rooms.
Some simple materials like rocks, palmwoods and red soil are used for making the homes.
The cilmate is quite dry, so moisture is not problem. The soil has good insulation and heat-retention to prevent strong direct sunlight and cold climate at night.
The area has strong wind, so the courtyards become useful spaces to escape from the wind. The pits and courtyards are connected by passageways that shapes like stairs. (normally the length of the passageways is approximately 10〜20m) Rain water from ditchs around the holes is stored to use it for drinking water.

The form of Matmata might be weird, but it is the result of the succession of architectural techniques, and also it is the result of measures for the cilmate in this region.
Usually, Japanese houses are built by a lot of materials, and various structures. On the other hand, the courtyard houses in Matmata are very simple. They just use simple structures and materials. That is a reason why I am interested in the courtyards of Matmata.
In particular, the courtyards opening to the sky are really attractive, even if they are completely exposed to view through the holes.

Courtyard houses in MATOMATA(Tunisia)
If you go down the gentle stairs from the entrance, a courtyard will suddenly appear in front of you..You will be able to see the some view of the courtyard from the above ground...
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