Our clients had lived in a large Victorian house in Haslemere for many years. As they approached retirement age they wished to downsize but love where they lived, so resolved to split their site and build a new home in their rear garden. The southern part of the rear garden offered a space some 30M wide and 25M deep so our concept was to wrap the site in a garden wall to create an inward looking courtyard house. Just visible from the street the flat-roofed building sits low on the site against a backdrop of mature trees to the south. Contemporary in form yet reserved and considerate to its neighbours. As the design developed, we settled on an ‘L’-shaped plan, with a single-storey, south facing wing providing open-plan living spaces (kitchen-dining-living). The westernmost end of this sedum covered roof oversails to provide a carport. A double height entrance connects to the bedroom wing that runs at right angles. This wing sits into the sloping land and has an upper storey providing a quiet room for hobbies/study together with a master bedroom suite with distant views towards the hills to the north-west, without overlooking neighbouring habitable spaces. The brick garden wall provides the outer shell of both house and courtyard. This also wraps both wings and to the north and east boundaries, where high level clerestory windows provide daylight and ventilation. The living wing is fully glazed to the courtyard but set back beneath the oversailing roof to provide solar shading and to shelter the approach to the front door. The facade to the bedroom wing has vertical timber slats to glazed panels to mitigate solar gain, provide privacy and minimize overlooking, along with full height timber ‘stable-doors’, where the upper part opens to provide ventilation. The courtyard space is designed as a series of rectangular brick-paved terraces floating in a sea of shingle with informal planting – the vertical timber slatted theme continues to make a bespoke greenhouse structure. The courtyard house has a special place in architectural history crossing many cultures and periods. It offers privacy and a unique sense of place, efficient planning and inside-outside living.