Dezeen Magazine

Jungle Frame

Ten atriums that brighten and expand residential spaces

A Montreal home with a trapeze net, a warehouse conversion in London and an Indian home with a monolithic marble facade are among the residences in this lookbook, which feature atriums as a central aspect of their design.

Atriums – large spaces, surrounded by a building, that are either open-air or feature skylights – were originally used in Roman homes, where they functioned more like a courtyard.

Modern atriums typically feature in larger buildings and are cavernous spaces that stretch up for stories.

For residential architecture, architects who want to include atrium spaces have to scale down the size, but that doesn't mean that homes can't have the loft ceilings and ample light provided by atriums.

In these homes, the central space is open, with skylights and glass ceilings bringing light into the heart of the structure.

Atriums provide an option for airiness when confronted with constructing homes on busy city streets where exterior views are not always desirable.

Often, the other rooms and spaces are all accessed from the atrium space, and many times trees feature in these lofty spaces.

This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen's archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing floating staircases, calm green bedrooms and organic modern interiors.

Atrium Townhome by Robitalle Curtis
The photo is by Adrien Williams

Atrium Townhome, Canada, by Robitaille Curtis

When dealing with limited space in city buildings, an atrium can open up the inside of the home. For this Montreal Townhome, Canadian studio Robitalle Curtis oriented the white-walled interiors around a triple-height atrium.

The atrium is in the centre of the house and extends up from the open-layout kitchen upwards. A skylight brings light into the void and the open space is punctuated by a trapeze that forms a children's play area on the top floor.

Find out more about Atrium Townhome ›

Stairwell of a Japanese house
The photo is by Yohei Sasakura

Margin House, Japan, by Kohei Yukawa

Kohei Yukawa of Yukawa Design Lab designed this home for himself in Ibaraki City, north of Osaka. The corrugated-metal-clad home features a central atrium with a small tree.

Instead of being completely topped by a skylight, the atrium fits into the slanted volume of the home. A wall of glass accompanies it on one side and at the top two clerestory windows bring light into the void.

Find out more about Margin House ›

Spiral staircase living room Princeton Studio PHH
The photo is by Glen Gery

La Clairière, USA, by Studio PHH

Brooklyn-based Studio PHH connected two wood-and-brick-clad volumes with a double-height atrium that serves as the living room for this New Jersey home.

The space has floor-to-ceiling glass on two sides where it faces the outdoors and is filled by a central staircase that leads to a mezzanine. Two large circular skylights brighten the space from above.

Find out more about La Clairière ›

Florida Street by Paper House Project
The photo is by Rory Gardiner

Bethnal Green warehouse apartment, UK, by Paper House Project

UK studio Paper House Project's design for this London home saw the studio turn an open-office space in an old warehouse into a residence. In order to add bedrooms to the space while still maintaining natural light on the first floor, the studio incorporated an atrium topped by skylights.

The double-height atrium is lined with gridded windows that also bring light into the bedrooms above. Instead of a tree, the void of the atrium is filled by a sculptural chandelier.

Find out more about this warehouse conversion ›

House W by KC design studio

Tawainese home, Taiwan, by KC Design Studio

KC Design Studio was tasked with bringing extra light into this 50-year-old home in Tawain. In order to do so, an atrium-like central void was created.

A metal stairway follows the atrium up three levels, creating a central flow through the home and bringing in plenty of natural light. Plants have been hung from the exposed structural rafters to take advantage of the sunlight and add life to the design.

Find out more about this Taiwanese home ›

Indoor tree in house in Vietnam
The photo is by Hiroyuki Oki

House for Daughter, Vietnam, by Khuôn Studio

This house in Ho Chi Min City by Khuôn Studio features a massive triple-height atrium that splits the two sections of the home, one of which is used by the full-time residents and one by their daughter.

The atrium features public spaces, a tree and a series of skylights that bring in light to the cavernous volume. The edges of the rooms on either side protrude into the area and are rounded, adding a softness to the atrium space.

Find out more about House for Daughter ›

Cleft House in New Delhi by Anagram Architects
The photo is by Photo André Jeanpierre Fanthome and Suryan//Dang

Cleft House, India, by Anagram Architects

This New Delhi house by Anagram Architects features two monumental marble blocks that are split by a massive atrium. The four-storey atrium is topped by a glass ceiling and even has a glass-lined elevator shaft on one wall.

A massive spiral staircase fills the void and plant-filled public areas are arranged throughout the space. Balconies for rooms on the upper floor have been positioned to look out over the atrium, giving the impression of an open-air space.

Find out more about Cleft House ›

Jungle Frame House by Studio Saxe
The photo is by Andres Garcia Lachner

Jungle Frame House, Costa Rica, by Studio Saxe

Studio Saxe oriented this steel-framed home in Costa Rica around a "tropical atrium". The three-storey atrium is lined by glass and wooden louvres so that the jungle is visible from much of the home.

Because of the wooden slats, the ground floors have shadows similar to the floor of the jungle with the shadows of the overstory. At the bottom of the atrium space is the living room, which extends outside into a wrap-around patio.

Find out more about Jungle Frame House ›

House H by HAO Design
The photo is by Hey!Cheese

House H, Taiwan, by HAO Design

The atrium was achieved in this home in Kaohsiung by removing the interior staircase and putting it outdoors. HAO Design decided that orienting the home around an atrium was the best way to take advantage of the space left by the staircase.

A skylight at the top illuminates the kitchen and a variety of other living spaces are positioned as mezzanines on the upper floors. The home now serves as a cafe and furniture store.

Find out more about House H ›

Wood and concrete finishes
The photo is by Albers Studio

The Lomas House, Mexico, by Arqueodigma Studio 

Because of the busy area of Guadalajara where this home is located,  Arqueodigma decided to orient it inwards. The central public areas of the home are arranged around a triple-height atrium covered by a skylight.

In the space are trees that rise up into the open area left open in the wooden ceiling. The public spaces on the ground floor were left mostly open so that the atrium can diffuse light through much of the home.

Find out more about The Lomas House ›

This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen's archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing floating staircases, calm green bedrooms and organic modern interiors.