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The winter garden

Balconies, outdoor spaces and, more broadly, the relationship between inside and outside are important considerations in multi-family residential design.

Earlier this year, Mansion Global ran a piece talking about a recent trend in cities such as New York, Toronto, and London, where high-rise outdoor spaces often go unused because of the wind and the cold. It’s called the winter garden.

“So luxury developers are trying an option that they tout as both lush and cozy: the winter garden. Enclosed by glass on three sides, and often designed as an alcove off the living room or bedroom, these spaces can feature fireplaces, radiant-floor heating and sliding glass doors to maximize the breeze, weather permitting. For developers, the amenity can bump up asking prices, because winter gardens add interior square footage to a unit.”

This, of course, is not a new idea. In fact, solariums are very common in Toronto condos of a particular vintage. But they are rare today, for probably a few reasons. Policy changes removed the incentive to build these spaces. Unit sizes have come down. And many people like the idea of being able to step outside.

The other way to think about this trend, though, is that it’s about creating adaptability within the skin of the building. You want to be hermetically sealed off in the winter, but you want the opposite in the summer and/or swing seasons. This is about making indoor spaces feel more like outdoor spaces when you want them to be that way.

There are countless examples of vernacular architecture figuring out how to strike this balance. Today we typically think in terms of mechanical systems. But I love the idea of a building that responds to the changing seasons.

Thanks for sharing this article with me, Rick.

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