I can’t say I’m a fan of apartments that share tiny light wells. Sure, as a tourist we can step off the main shopping street in some city such as Lyon, and think we have found the authentic Europe that we came looking for. As much as I hate to waste your flavour here buddy, if a courtyard is well kept, chances are the rooms belong to a 5 star hotel, or boutique office suites. Outside the swanky parts of town we explore on our European vacations, those light wells will more likely be smelling of rubbish bins and have giant sized bloomers hanging to dry. Yes, and they are great transferers of noise when your neighbours are fighting in French or learning to play the accordion at 3 in the morning.
One of Japan’s rewards for having a society that is better behaved, is they can experiment with housing types that would cause rioting anywhere else. Take this miniature block of walkup terrace apartments, designed around a courtyard that has been curved to receive motorbikes. To hell with motorbikes, I want to move in with my collection of push bikes! (Thanks to a student of mine, who found this fantastic example of a building designed and marketed to lovers of two wheel transportation.)