Traditionally, in Palestine, outdoor spaces played a crucial role in organizing and improving the living quality of the
living units, while this important role in modern housing design is lost by a stark separation between internal and private
external spaces (balconies, verandas and yards). This separation is disconnecting private inside and outside
spaces whereas in the traditional courtyard houses there was a continuity between the inside and the outside. This
paper investigates the socio-environmental criteria and characteristics of private outdoor spaces that could play an
improving role in the living quality of future housing design. So, a comparative study between contemporary and
traditional outdoor spaces characteristics was carried out in two different cities in two different climatic zones of
Palestine. The contemporary housing was evaluated by conducting a survey over 300 dwellings of different housing
typologies (detached houses/apartment flats), while the characteristics of traditional design were analyzed from the
old historical part of these cities. The results of this paper demonstrate that the private outdoor space is a major
contributor to enhance housing sustainability. It presents the distinctive qualities of courtyard concept, which ought to
be reintroduced consciously into the design of future housing in order to improve the living quality. The paper also
identifies the most important factors that ensure those qualities and forms the basis for further research.
Keywords : Socio-Environmental Quality, Private Outdoor Spaces, Courtyard, Housing Building, Palestine.
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