comments 2

Personalizing outdoor spaces on multi-family buildings

I am still making my way through (and editing) my photos from Lisbon and Malaga. Here is one that I took from the Playa de La Malagueta. I also posted it to Twitter and Instagram and asked: Should we encourage the personalization and customization of outdoor spaces on multi-family buildings?

This building overlooks the beach and the Alboran Sea. If you look closely, you’ll see that a number of the balconies have been modified to include different kinds of awnings and shade structures. And some look to have been converted to interior space.

A few of you seem to support this level of customization, provided that the overall design integrity of the building is maintained. And I would agree that in this particular instance, it seems to work, which is actually why I took the photo. It gives the facade life.

I recall seeing instances of this in Toronto, but generally speaking it’s not encouraged or allowed. In condominiums, outdoor spaces attached to units are typically defined as “exclusive-use common elements.”

The challenge, here, lies in the subjectivity of “maintaining the overall design intent of the building.” I’m not sure how you codify that, unless you pre-design the options. Perhaps that’s one way of doing it.


  1. Janet Donnelly

    It would be great if balconies could be enclosed for example with sliding glass windows. We could then enjoy all winter.


  2. Jakob P.

    Hundertwasser would argue for the importance of everyone being able to personalize their home:

    Re sliding doors for balconies: Hell yes! In fact, let’s just get rid of balconies altogether, and expand the living room or bedroom directly to the very edge of the building, with sliding windows opening up the indoor space to the air whenever desired. It’s crazy that in a world of small apartments, we still designate substantial square footage to spaces that are impossible to protect from humidity and soot, can’t be heated and do an awfully poor job for storage. Not to mention that inaccessible windows get cleaned by building contractors but anything on the inside of your balcony requires manual washing work.


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