The Viennese district Wieden with its historic character and proximity to the city centre is the perfect place to live for the Austrian-Italian family. The only downside is the lack of personal outdoor space, a scarce commodity in this densely populated Wilhelminian city. Therefore, a new balcony is to complement the family’s living space with a small herb and vegetable garden as well as a dining table to enjoy mealtimes outside.
The small existing balcony facing the courtyard is to be extended as it is not possible to build a balcony on the historic facade facing the street. The family would like to enjoy the largest possible balcony but is confronted with the limited possibilities within the courtyard.
The maximum extension has been discussed with the neighbours and the resulting design is a trapezoidal layout.
With regards to the garden, the family envisages a continuous planting area along the railings. The plant troughs’ conical shape offers enough space for the plants to grow and sufficient depth for their roots.
The precise folding of the balcony’s outside perfectly addresses the limiting legal and spacial parameters and therefore offers the best possible insertion into the courtyard. An indentation into the geometry ensures the required exposure to natural light for the living-room window of the apartment below. On the opposite side, a fold towards the balcony’s inside makes sure that there is a big enough gap to the window of the stairwell. The strict guidelines help to create interesting forms and effects to make this balcony individual.
A topography of differently inclined partial surfaces are created through the surfaces’ mirroring and their triangulation. The differently inclined mirrors configure their surroundings as never previously perceived. The light reflecting balcony experiments with our perception and is full of positive effects. The reflections expand the courtyard’s limited space by the size of its own mirror image. The polished surface of the stainless steel creates a special depth effect. The courtyard now has richer views towards the sky and rays of sunshine which are led all the way down into the courtyard as the light fragments.
This camouflage results in a private retreat which only gives away the shape of the balcony on closer inspection. The balcony’s timber boards on the inside provide a contrast to the mirrored and abstract outside. Removable plant troughs, integrated into the cladding, offer space for plenty of vegetation, adding to the balcony’s privacy.
The structural system is a steel-wood construction. The integration of the main beams into the brick work of the existing house is completed by two cantilevers, which are each connected to a rigid beam, installed and vertically anchored into the wall. Most building parts had to be made smaller to be transported manually as there is no vehicular access to the courtyard. The stainless steel cladding is cut on site with the help of wooden templates to achieve utmost precision. The mirrored sheet-metal triangles are stuck to the supporting construction and additionally secured by rivets on selective points. The plant troughs inserted along the railings can be lifted out with the help of a specially-built crane device able to swivel and fold away, making it possible for the plants to survive in winter. The balcony’s interior is a flat-roof construction implemented with the required fire-resistant cladding and thermal insulation. The plant troughs’ incoming rain and waste water is led into the existing downpipe through a covered gutter. The wooden cladding on the balcony’s inside consists of thermally-treated ash boards.