Balconies can become crucial outdoor spaces when you’re living in an apartment building, especially in a big city. Unfortunately, a lot of older buildings weren’t designed to accommodate them. Many people have created their own solutions to this problem, like skylight windows that turn into balconies. Most recently, Amin Taha Architects have designed a six-story apartment complex that seems to feature oversized wicker baskets for balconies!
Of course, these “baskets” are actually made of steel and only wrapped in wicker. The balconies protrude from every other window to give each resident a private outdoor space they wouldn’t find in most other London apartments, much less the ones built on such narrow lots. Each balcony boasts bamboo flooring and is long enough for an adult to lay down in. Below, a wicker fence separates the building’s front patio from the sidewalk and complements these eye-catching additions to the brick facade.
The architects felt that the baskets provided a nice relief to the building’s otherwise harsh brick exterior, explaining: “Wicker woven steel balconies are hung from every other aperture softening the material palette. These are large enough for dining and are alternated to allow neighbors the opportunity to develop the limited social space above and below them when communal gardens are not available. For similar reasons the front door is an extruded version of the bronzed window reveals, becoming a porte-cochere with a bench made of the same CLT as the superstructure inviting use when meeting neighbors as well as being convenient to rest yourself and grocery bags while fumbling for keys.”
The building is notable for more than just its curb appeal. Located on Barretts Grove, a street filled with archetypal Victorian architecture and terraced brick homes, the complex successfully blends in with its surroundings while simultaneously acting as an example of progressive architecture.
Underneath its brick facade, the structure is made almost entirely out of cross-laminated timber, or CLT. The architects used CLT as a “superstructure’” for the building’s walls, floors, and roof. The bricks, in turn, shield the timber from rain. In the past, most people assumed that wood was too weak and too flammable to use in buildings over three stories tall. However, recent tests have proven those assumptions to be false. Governments around the world are now amending their building codes, as wood can be manufactured more sustainably, is often more affordable, and produces less construction waste than steel or concrete. Plus, there’s something about wooden structures that just feels warmer and more welcoming than metal ones.
While the building’s exterior might hide its wooden composition, its interior plainly reveals its true form. The architects left all interior CLT exposed and unfinished to emphasize its natural beauty. Plus, it eliminated the need for drywall, paint, plasterboard, and suspended ceilings, reducing the project’s carbon footprint by 15 percent. A wooden framework also made it easier for the team to incorporate built-in elements like window seats, timber cabinetry, and full height doors.
How would you decorate a wicker balcony of your own?