For urban buildings balconies can serve as small patios that offer outdoor space for lounging or family dining as well as taking the most of the surrounding views. Architecturally, balconies might be a great way to create a dramatic focal point to the façade of the building – or even define the overall layout.
Losada García Arquitectos, an experimental architecture studio with offices in San Diego, USA and Cáceres, Spain has designed the Cultural Center La Gota in Spain. The building that houses temporary spaces, a permanent exhibition for the painter Sofia Feliu and a Tobacco Museum is inspired by the structure of tobacco plants. According to the architects, the design concept is based on the same principle of equality and diversity – the tobacco leaves are similar but different at the same time.
The five floors of the Centre are set on five displaced boxes, one above the other, their volumes varying in size and slightly offset. Balconies in the building serve as a core for vertical communication, as visitors can stand on one floor and see other people standing just above or below them.
Designed to remind a tobacco-drying building, the Centre is clad in glass and a ceramic material resembling the traditional brick, which filters the sunlight in. The resulting façade appears dematerialized and refined, and its structure enhances the bearing capacities of concrete, reducing deformation and cracking, thus increasing its lifespan.
The French ECDM Architectes have designed a housing complex in Arcueil, France that is identified visually and functionally by their balcony layouts. The ZAC du Coteau project is comprised of 101 townhouses and 40 social housing units contained within two structures. With the balconies making at least 50% of the habitable surface, the project envisages the dwellings as villas widely open to their environment, extended by large exterior patios. For example, 3-room apartment of 60sqm is thus extended by balconies of 30sqm, which provides generous outdoor spaces, best lighting situation, views and absolute privacy.
The resulting facade is the expression of a living space, its alternating sinusoid movements are made to allow a lot of natural light in despite the overhangs up to 3.20m deep. Thus, the cantilevered distance of the undulating floor plate geometry is greatest outside the living rooms. While reduced in front of the bedrooms and service rooms. The plan layouts is alternated level by level, so despite the generous dimensions of the balconies, the apartments below are not obscured by the upper floors.
Slovakian architectural studio Nice&Wise has developed a North Star residential complex in Senec, a popular summer resort. The team was challenged to design apartments with nice views that enjoy enough privacy, as the building is located in the built-up area in close proximity of the road. The system of covered balconies provides a sufficient privacy on the exposed street façade, which nevertheless lets a lot of natural light in. Each 50sqm apartment features a west-facing balcony offering sunset views.
The unique architectonical form of the balconies’ partitions is based on the movement of the sun, with their top corners exposed to the south for more sunlight in each living space. As the sun moves throughout the day, the shadows cast by the overhangs create a constantly shifting pattern. Not unlike a start-shape, it references an observatory across the street. Also, constructed using brick and cantilevered on concrete plateaus, the extruded shape isolates the apartments from noise from the street below.
The most unusual balconies, however, are proposed by French architecture firm Hamonic + Masson & Associés for a visionary residential tower concept in Limassol, Cyprus. Named Limassol Tower, the project seeks to capture the natural splendor of sea and sun. The corolla-shaped balconies in each apartment are set to house private swimming pools and planted green areas with a direct link into each individual unit, making them feel like ‘independent islands’.
With only a sliding glass door separating interior from exterior, the balconies create a luxurious living experience: they ensure unobstructed Mediterranean sea views, simultaneously providing uttermost privacy for the residents. The natural geometry of floral corolla inspired the very structure, the tower rising from nature with soaring columns that bloom into the unique round balconies that feel more like exterior terraces. Round platforms and sunshades on the ground floor landscape support the distinctive architectural concept.