Historically, balconies were designed for ceremonial functions where people with great status or power would appear before the masses. We still see this today when a president, royalty, or religious leaders appear to the public. While you, too, are important and entitled to stand on your balcony greeting those who look up, you may wonder what a balcony’s purpose is nowadays?
The primary purpose of a balcony in modern architecture is to allow quick access to the environment for people living above ground level. Secondary objectives of balconies include increased living space, social benefits, improved energy efficiency, decreased noise pollution, and decorative design.
A lot of the time, you will see that balconies seem more decorative than anything else. Some balconies look too small to be of much value. Others are just piled up with clutter or plants. But balconies have many purposes that can benefit the inhabitants of the apartment. So let’s look at the different purposes of balconies.
we also have an article to help you decide if an apartment balcony is worth it.
Purpose #1: A Balcony Offers Quick Access To The Outside Environment
If you need to go outside for fresh air or a change of scenery, it can be as simple as opening your door and stepping onto your balcony. It is beneficial for people to be outside for a bit, as being indoors for too long with artificial lighting can negatively affect your psychological and emotional well-being.
You can feel the outside temperature or wind on your balcony or get a little sunshine on your face and body after working inside. You might have a better view depending on how high your balcony is. You will also have fewer bugs, mosquitoes, and stray animals (and people) to bother you the higher up you are. You will just have to deal with any feelings of vertigo you may have.
Purpose #2: A Balcony Increases Your Living Space
Let’s face it. Some apartments are tiny, and having a few extra feet of floor space is nothing to be scoffed at. But, whatever the size of your apartment or living space, you can get the best out of your balcony if you use it as an extra living space.
Your balcony can be used as a play area for your children and pets or a place for you to relax and entertain guests. Perhaps you would prefer to use the balcony as an extension of your home office or a home gym, or maybe you want to have a collection of plants to create a little garden. You could even use your balcony as an extension of your kitchen if you have a portable BBQ or cooker.
Depending on the size of your balcony and the building rules, you could enclose your balcony with glass sliding windows, creating an extra room with different functions and possibilities. Doing this will allow you to use your balcony despite adverse weather conditions. You can open the windows on warm days and nights and let in the fresh air in. You can read more about the difference between enclosed and open balconies here.
Purpose #3: Balconies Are Good For Socializing
When it comes to balconies enhancing socialization, the images of narrow streets with washing lines strung between balconies come to mind. People living close to one another don’t even need to leave home if they want to chat with a neighbor on their balcony. In fact, they often rely on each other to maximize and share communal space, while keeping up with the daily gossip.
During, people tend to use their balconies a lot more. The recent COVID-19 pandemic is an example, as many countries enforced strict lockdowns where people weren’t allowed to leave their homes. So, out of solitude and frustration, more people used their balconies to “get out” of their apartments. In doing so, neighbors could chat from their respective balconies, easing their solitude.
In many instances, balconies offer an elevated spot for residents to have “eyes on the street”, where they could monitor street activity. According to Jane Jacobs, who coined the phrase, having eyes on the street is vital for a neighborhood’s sense of community and safety.
Aside from keeping a watch on the neighborhood and enduring pandemics, balconies are good places to entertain guests. With a few chairs or bar stools, you can sit outside and enjoy the outdoors while chatting with your guests with a drink and maybe some snacks on a table.
Purpose #4: A Balcony Can Offer You Private Space Outside
Some people want to be outside but prefer to have some privacy or be secluded. A balcony is helpful for people who want to relax or work outside but in private. For example, suppose you’re going to sunbathe or nap outside. In that case, you can use an outdoor lounger, a mattress, or even some blankets and cushions to lie on.
A shady spot on your balcony is perfect for reading or working on your laptop. A change of scenery and some fresh air might motivate you while you work. If your balcony is not private, you can use a privacy screen to reduce the chances of others viewing you on your balcony.
Purpose #5: Balconies Can Improve The Energy Efficiency Of A Building
Balconies can improve the energy efficiency of a building by the way they are designed. They can introduce more natural light into a room, reducing the need for artificial lighting and electricity. Additionally, the amount of shade on a balcony and fresh air that can come through the doors can reduce the need for air conditioning in the power crisis we are currently having this can be a huge benefit.
In areas with a mild climate for most of the year, balconies are an essential element in the architecture of buildings. This is because the design of the balconies on buildings can affect sun control, heat transfer, damp protection, ventilation, lighting, and wind-loading. These design elements can, in turn, affect the energy efficiency of a building.
Purpose #6: Balconies Can Be Used For Apartment Gardens
A balcony can provide the perfect space for a miniature garden for apartment dwellers who enjoy having flowers and plants. Potted plants provide a green break in the built-up areas of cities. They can also give a sense of purpose to people who want to look after something but live alone and do not have pets.
A balcony garden is easy to create with pots of various shapes and sizes, and the plants can be decorative or functional. Functional plants can be edible or act as a barrier to create privacy or deter anyone from climbing over the railings. Decorations like pebbles and artificial grass can give a balcony garden a more outdoorsy feel. Additionally, adding a bird feeder could attract local birds.
Purpose #7: Balconies Can Reduce Noise Pollution From Outside
Noise pollution all day and night can affect a person’s ability to concentrate and sleep, resulting in unwanted health issues. In busy streets, balconies offer an added barrier between traffic noise and an apartment. A study on the purpose of balconies in Hong Kong confirms the value of balconies in mitigating traffic noise, amongst other benefits, and it a densely populated city like Hong Kong a little peace is even more valuable.
Purpose #8: Balconies Can Be For Decorative Purposes
In some buildings, architects incorporate balconies more for decorative purposes than functional purposes. These balconies are often seen in executive or upmarket buildings and apartment blocks and seem obsolete. Balconies that do not have floor space are called balconets.
The Difference Between A Balcony And A Balconet
The word “balcony” originates from the Italian word for scaffold, “balcone“. It is a protruding structure attached to the side of a building and supported by cantilevers, brackets, and sometimes columns. Balconies, unlike balconets, have floors.
A balconette is a false balcony that appears to be a balcony when the windows or glass doors behind it are open. While some balconettes are purely decorative, they may add an element of safety depending on the size of the glass door or window.
We have a more in depth article on The importance of balconies here on the site, you can follow the link if needed.
Balconies have many functional purposes, but they can be decorative too. The primary purpose of a balcony is to allow a person quick access to the outside environment.
A balcony can be used to improve the quality of life of an apartment-dweller and also add something to homes if you have one large enough to have or install a balcony. Additionally, well-designed balconies can reduce noise pollution and increase a building’s energy efficiency.