Living means more than just living within four closed walls. Light, air and space are what make an apartment really pleasant and give a great deal of quality of life. In the case of ground-level apartments, this is solved by terraces and gardens. From the first floor, however, it becomes an architectural challenge to get a piece of fresh air at all times. The loggia and the balcony were invented to be able to stay outdoors without leaving the apartment. Find out everything there is to know about it in this text.
Sitting indoors outdoors
What initially sounds like a contradiction is made possible by loggias and balconies. You can sit outdoors without having to leave your home. Feeling the wind, hearing the birds chirping and enjoying the sunset – this can be done in a particularly pleasant way on balconies and loggias. Even when it storms and rains, the loggia and balcony can still be an exciting place to stay if they are designed accordingly. However, what sounds so romantic here is often difficult to implement.
Difference to the balcony
In Germany, everything that represents a transition between “inside” and “outside” on higher floors is generally referred to as a “balcony”. This is factually and technically wrong, because most of the balconies are not, but loggias.
A balcony is characterized by the fact that it is attached to an existing, closed building. It can also theoretically be removed from the building again without reducing the area of the interior dwelling. Balconies are therefore also suitable for retrofitting to a building.
Balconies are produced with their own, self-sufficient statics or connected to the structure as cantilever slabs. The self-sufficient statics, mostly implemented by steel or wooden constructions, has some advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are:
- Subsequent cultivation possible
- High inherent stability
- Thermal decoupling to the structure
- The disadvantages of balconies with self-sufficient statics are
- Elaborate constructions
- Several support pillars required, resulting in limited all-round visibility
The “thermal decoupling” point in particular is a major problem with the balconies, which were already planned as cantilever slabs during the construction phase. With these balconies, the existing false ceiling is extended by the area of the balcony. Considerable structural measures are necessary for this. The resulting lever moment from the self-weight of the cantilever slab and all structures, such as railings, must be statically absorbed by the cantilever slab without additional support. This is only possible with massive reinforcement with construction steel inside the plate. The advantages and disadvantages of cantilever slab balconies are:
- Elegant integration into the structure
- Perfect all-round view without disturbing support pillars
- The disadvantages of the cantilever slab are
- Elaborate statics
- Very sensitive to rusting
- Hardly to be thermally decoupled from the building
In particular, the thermal coupling of cantilever slabs with the structure is a major problem. The cantilever slab acts practically like the cooling fins of an air-cooled engine: the internal heat of the building is radiated via the slab and removed there. In addition to high heating costs, the cantilever plate can also cause a dew point shift. So it can be that there are always damp spots and mold formation on the inside of the balcony.
Countermeasures for thermal coupling are insulation on the other side of the cantilever slab or the use of a separating cage. A separating cage is a static reinforcement element that connects the cantilever slab to the false ceiling without being connected to it via the concrete. This is technically complex to produce and a permanent point of attack for penetrating moisture.
Our recommendation is therefore a subsequent extension of balconies. They are technically simpler, more stable and more economical. Systems are also available today that can implement the additional statics as small and invisible as possible.
The loggia, closely related to the German word “loge”, is an integral part of a building. Unlike the balcony, it does not consist of an additional part of the building. The loggia offers air and light without protruding beyond the outer facade. This makes it particularly easy to implement from a technical point of view: the loggia basically consists of a normal outside room, in which the outside wall and the window are left out and replaced by a railing. However, this approach to increasing living comfort does not only bring advantages.
Types of loggias
The loggia is an architectural stylistic device that has been used for centuries. It has its origins in warm Italy, where it experienced a real boom in the Renaissance. From the original approach of creating an open space simply by omitting the façade, a large number of different loggia types have developed.
The free passage is an open but covered connection between two parts of the building. The Italian style furnished the open spaces with pompous round and pointed arches. The clearance is now only common in public buildings.
The most common form of the loggia is the free seat. This is a closed space within an apartment that can only be accessed through a door. It can be implemented both on the ground floor and on any other floor.
Open, windowless buildings consisting only of a roof resting on several columns can also be called loggias. They were often used as market halls during the Renaissance. Occasionally this type of building is still built today. Smaller loggias of this type can be found as garden buildings for festive occasions.
The roof loggia is an opening in a gable roof. It offers a high utility value, but it also has some disadvantages.
advantages and disadvantages
Advantages of a loggia
- Easy implementation
- Easy conversion to a closed room
- Increasing the incidence of light in the connected rooms
Disadvantages of a loggia
- Limited space
- Limited usability
- Compared to the balcony only a small all-round view
- Need for multiple exterior windows
As already mentioned, the loggia is technically easy to implement by simply leaving out the outer wall and the window. Of course, this relocates windows and access to the rooms behind them. Instead of one window, a loggia usually requires two outside windows, one of which is designed as a door. This is more expensive than a continuous window front. The connected rooms usually have an additional light source to the outside.
A loggia can easily be converted into an interior space by adding a window front at a later date. In addition to the easily available permanent solutions, the industry also offers very interesting options for closing the loggia only seasonally. Under the keyword “loggia glazing” there are numerous approaches to increase the functionality of a loggia. This is very interesting, especially in winter: a glazed loggia offers additional heat protection for the rooms behind it and thus helps to reduce heating costs. But be careful – the glazing of a loggia is a variable construction measure. It must be approved by the landlord and the local building authorities.
The problem with a loggia is that it only offers a limited amount of space. In prefabricated buildings and apartment buildings, the loggia is often so narrow that it can hardly be used except for setting up a drying rack. In order to obtain a loggia with real living value, it must be thoroughly considered as early as the planning phase.
Roof loggia – the perfect compromise
The roof loggia is an exception to the loggias. This component is also called “negative dormer” because it takes up the idea of the dormer but reverses it.
With a roof loggia, the pews and the roof skin are interrupted and removed over a certain area. The roof is provided with vertical supporting walls along the loggia. The door and usually a window are installed on the largest wall. As a result, you get a pleasantly large area that offers a variety of possible uses: setting up a small pool, a barbecue area, a small dining table and greenery is particularly effective on a roof loggia.
When does a roof loggia make sense?
A roof loggia is particularly suitable for retrofitting in an existing roof truss if the roof was not previously used as an apartment. A roof loggia is an extremely pleasant place to stay when the weather is right. However, in terms of utility, it cannot be compared with a fully-fledged, closed room. If you are the owner of an attic apartment, the subsequent installation of a dormer is usually the much more sensible way to increase the living and utility value of the dwelling. A roof loggia cuts the already scarce living space of a penthouse and thus requires high compromises.
Disadvantages of a roof loggia
A roof loggia has a weak point: the sealing. Proper drainage of the roof loggia is necessary to ensure that downpours, snowfall and other precipitation are safely drained away. This is quite complex and can only be produced by specialist companies. A leaky roof loggia inevitably leads to damp spots in the apartments below. This is usually followed by a mold infestation. A cascade of consequential damage can quickly result from the well-intentioned approach to increasing the value of living space with a loggia on the roof.
However, the good news here is that the industry now offers a large selection of interesting products that can significantly increase the utility of a roof loggia. Under the keywords “glazing” and “roof loggia” you will find very interesting solutions that better protect a roof loggia against the weather and increase its usability. With the right glazing, the roof loggia can be used all year round. In fact, the systems available today are so well developed that they can combine dormer and loggia approaches. Although this has its price, it increases the living value of the attic apartment to the maximum.
Retrofitting a loggia is a structural challenge. No one will seriously want to rip out part of their outer wall just to get balcony-like access to fresh air. Here, the subsequently attachable balconies are the much more intelligent solution.
However, a structural case that is often not considered makes the subsequent installation of a loggia very interesting: A single-family house with an adjoining prefabricated garage can be easily supplemented with a balcony or a loggia. Here it is enough to make access to the roof of the garage and build a roof over it. The structural requirements for this are low. The garage already has a roof with weatherproof drainage guaranteed. The outer walls of the concrete garage are by far strong enough to accommodate a railing. Roof posts and a light canopy can also be easily accommodated on it without having to worry about the statics. Wooden planks are recommended as a covering for a floor covering.
However, expanding the space above the garage into a full-fledged living space is not recommended: exhaust gases from cars can easily penetrate upwards into the room. Not only does it smell bad, it can even be dangerous. An open balcony or loggia is the most you should add to the roof of a garage.
Loggia and balcony for more quality of life
Sit outside and soak up the sun – all while being just a few steps from the safety of home. No other building element offers this level of comfort like a terrace, a loggia or a balcony. In this text we have shown you the most important differences, advantages and disadvantages as well as the options for retrofitting in your own home. In order to implement it effectively in your own home, however, we always recommend the advice of a specialist. The architectural office in your area will be happy to advise you on how to realize your desire for more fresh air and light in your home. Make more of your home with a balcony, loggia and more.
Tips for speed readers
- Subsequent balconies are thermally harmless
- Cantilever plates must be checked for corrosion when attached with connector cages
- Loggias require a lot of space
- Roof loggias with glazing can be used all year round