A place for a big family

Kateřina Katovská


The article is dedicated to family housing and, above all, to housing options for large families in a city centre. It describes an example of protected housing and highlights the problems related to living in the city centre, which appears to be growing large, along with its impact on the development of such cities and society. Like most European countries, the Czech Republic faces a low birth rate. The current fertility level ascertained by the Czech Statistical Office does not provide simple reproduction rate of the Czech Republic’s population. In this context, the government strives to support families with children requiring specific care, including e.g. foster care or support families with three or more children and provide them with education and general social development. Statistics indicates that almost four and a half per cent of families in the Czech Republic have four or more children, suggesting that this concerns families of six or more. This is not a small number, considering the fact that the today’s city flats are usually designed for a family of four, at most. Though spacious, these apartments’ typological rules, allowing common housing for six people otherwise, are being overlooked. This might be reason why large families live mostly in rural areas. Nevertheless, reasons are plain enough. Almost each such family responds that living in the country is easier. They have land and house of their own, and a garden, which is undoubtedly necessary for a large family. On the other hand, the city offers numerous activities for teenagers and better job opportunities, as well. The question is, whether the current situation allows for a good-quality family urban housing. Does the city offer what a family needs? What do they bring to the city, on the contrary?
The question is whether the current situation allows for quality family housing in the city. In this article, I mention hofjes pros only marginally. These do not solely present a clever use of patio, but also a radical idea of protected family living in the city and the family living itself. In many ways, this example can change the current opinion of design of new housing units, and, although based on the use of courtyards, it consists in more than just building-up the free space, after all.

Keywords: architecture, courtyard, housing, family and child care, foster care, cultural practices, traditions