Quadrangle (architecture)

In architecture, a quadrangle (or colloquially, a quad) is a space or a courtyard, usually rectangular (square or oblong) in plan, the sides of which are entirely or mainly occupied by parts of a large building (or several smaller buildings). The word is probably most closely associated with college or university campus architecture, but quadrangles are also found in other buildings such as palaces. Most quadrangles are open-air, though a few have been roofed over (often with glass), to provide additional space for social meeting areas or coffee shops for students.

The College Quadrangle of S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia
Tom Quad, Christ Church, Oxford
Quadrangle of the University of Sydney

The word quadrangle was originally synonymous with quadrilateral, but this usage is now relatively uncommon.[1]

Mob Quad, Merton College, Oxford is often claimed to be the oldest university quadrangle

Some modern quadrangles resemble cloister gardens of medieval monasteries, called garths, which were usually square or rectangular, enclosed by covered arcades or cloisters. However, it is clear from the oldest examples (such as Mob Quad) which are plain and unadorned with arcades, that the medieval colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were creating practical accommodation for college members. Grander quadrangles that look like cloisters came later, once the idea of a college was well established and benefactors or founders wished to create more monumental buildings.[2] Although architectonically analogous, for historical reasons quads in the colleges of the University of Cambridge are always referred to as courts (such as the Trinity Great Court).

In North America, Thomas Jefferson's design for the University of Virginia centered the housing and academic buildings in a Palladian form around three sides of the Lawn, a huge grassy expanse. Later, some American college and university planners imitated the Jeffersonian plan, the Oxbridge idea, Beaux-Arts forms, and other models. All five barracks at The Citadel (military college) feature quadrangles with red-and-white squares (the colors of the South Carolina battle flag), which are used for formations by the Corps of Cadets.

Quadrangles are also found in traditional Kerala houses (Naalukettu) and is known as the Nadumittam ("Middle Space").[3]

Notable quadranglesEdit

See alsoEdit

  • Siheyuan – Historical type of residence in China
  • Nālukettu – Traditional housing style in Kerala
  • Haveli, a form of classical architecture from South Asia & Persia, which incorporates a quad for cooling ventilation in the hot climate, and the private enjoyment of the open sky by residents, in a very modest culture


  1. ^ "Quadrangle, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. OED Online Oxford University Press. 29 June 2006.
  2. ^ See the references at Mob Quad
  3. ^ Namboothiri.com