In an earlier entry, I spotlighted one of the ways that the residents of Copenhagen create space for themselves in a big and busy city---by creating buildings that have no corners! Another step taken by the residents of Copenhagen over the centuries was to create buildings that have internal courtyards.
Internal courtyards are exactly what you think they are---open areas in the center of a block of buildings! When you're walking along Copenhagen's streets, you'll often see heavy wooden gates in the middle of a row of apartments or businesses. Those gates are the first sign that an internal courtyard has been built for residents.
Hundreds of years ago, these internal courtyards provided stable space for the animals of homeowners! After all, where were you going to park your horse and keep your chickens if you didn't have an internal courtyard? You wouldn't want your goat running off on you, right? Well neither did the residents of Copenhagen----and internal courtyards were the answer.
Back then, internal courtyards would have been dirty places full of animal bedding and droppings. Today, they are great places to get off the main city streets and take a few deep breaths! Often, they provide parking for residents or customers of businesses. You'll also find that people beautify their internal courtyards too----ivy grows along walls and flowers seem to be everywhere.
Take a look at one internal courtyard that I had a chance to walk through:
All of this has gotten me thinking about the important role that open space plays in the lives of people. I mean, I really like going to the park or sitting next to a lake. Throwing a baseball or a football and running through the grass is something I'm not sure I'd be willing to give up. While the energy of living in a big city seems to be cool, I'm not sure I'd like it so much if I had to resort to internal courtyards for open space.
How about you? How important do you think it is to have open space to play in? Would you be interested in living in an exciting place if it didn't have room to play?
Better question: What makes a place "exciting" to you?! What do you need to have in order to be happy about where you are living?
Good question, huh? Can't wait for your answers....
Bam Bam Bigelow
Image retrieved from http://www.pennyhead.com/images/copenhagen.jpg on July 7, 2007