At the beginning of the pandemic caused by the Covid-19, the Mutual of Insurance of Civil Responsibility of the Superior Architects, Asema, organized an ideas contest with the motto "Architecture for the day after". "The urban response", "A new residential paradigm" and "Rethinking the public" invited us to reflect and propose new solutions or reformulations of the existing ones.
The architect Luis Quintano was one of the finalists with his proposal for balconies where there were none. And the impact of your project is aligned with the greater awareness of enjoying the fresh air in the hangover of confinement and social distance. «I live in a house without a terrace (Quintano comments), which helped me a lot to understand this need in times like today, even more after experiencing the sensations of millions of citizens from the balconies: with the applause, the music, etc. . ».
Her project, Stayhöme, allows adding metal structures to the facades, modular, scalable, in what can be, as described in the contest, a new paradigm: «The terraces suppose built square meters, so people closed them and added them to the living room. Neither the market nor the administration, nor the users themselves demanded it. I hope that there will soon be a regulatory framework to make this new option possible.
The Basque government It is already on the starting line in this regard, when preparing the necessary regulations for this new era. How it stands out Pablo Garcia Astrain, Director of Housing, Land and Architecture: «The process is well advanced, and it may be ready by the end of the year. The idea is update the rules of design and habitability of the houses that, in our case, was already shown with actions to incorporate the idea of outdoor space as a minimum condition of habitability, whenever feasible. Basque government aid is aligned with this type of need: "1,200 per square meter, 5,000 maximum per home"
In the case of the Community of Madrid, the dean of architects of Madrid, Siegfried Herráez, has recently claimed before the Community of Madrid the need for Madrid municipalities not to count the square meters of terraces, balconies and roofs. The Madrid City Council, for the moment, governs its regulations by the General Urban Planning Plan of 1997 and section 6.6.19. ("Overhangs and flights on facades"), in the absence of potential updates to adapt to this new trend, which would be in line with the actions carried out by the Special Regeneration and Rehabilitation Plans in different neighborhoods of the city.
Laureano Matas, Secretary General of the Higher Council of the Colleges of Architects of Spain, agrees with this need: “As a result of the Covid19 pandemic and the experience of confinement, we have been more aware of the value of the places we inhabit. We have realized that we need safe and healthy outdoor spaces and, when the street is closed due to the threat of contagion, the intermediate spaces, such as terraces and balconies, with which, originally, many houses had and that have been closed, acquire value".
Matas also underlines the logical need for this type of action to be carried out with all kinds of security measures, both for the inhabitants of the houses and for pedestrians: «An intervention of this type on a façade alters its architectural composition and the building envelope, thus requiring structural reinforcements. The installation of a balcony in a window also requires extending it to turn it into a balcony door, which affects the window below, which, from that moment on, will have an element of shadow ... ».
Sandra Llorente Monleón, Managing Director at Lignum Tech, is one of the professionals working in this regard, around something that seemed unthinkable years ago… and months ago: «According to industrialized construction methods, Lignum Tech has developed a system for the construction of flown terraces, in new construction and in rehabilitation, with a thermal bridge break in contact with the structure, being able to customize all the finishes and with the possibility of maintaining their dimensional stability according to the Technical Code of the Edification".
Other solution: Bloomframe, the innovative window that transforms into a balcony at the touch of a button, is no longer a prototype, as they have been installed in both the Netherlands and Switzerland. An insulated panoramic window that, in 55 seconds, is an open balcony, adding a living space to compact interiors.
The unique balcony is made of resistant materials for all types of weather and is controlled by a smooth electronic system. The manufacturer is obtaining the necessary certifications to introduce the product in several European countries, such as Spain, to offer a safe and affordable element for homes and offices.
Victor Sarda, Deputy Director of Institutional Relations, Entrepreneurship and ETSEM Communication of the UPM (Polytechnic University of Madrid), emphasizes the need to connect Architecture, Urbanism and Law: «The wide and complex urban planning collection in Spain describes two fundamental points for the possible incorporation of terraces or balconies: the condition of flights and the buildable area. The first determines in each facade and street the possibility of placing flown bodies that protrude from the facades, as well as their length, height and conditioning factors. The buildable area determines the area that is computed in the calculation, and its inclusion as a buildable area also depends on the urban regulations. In order to adapt the law, and thus reduce the gap between reality and laws, a regulatory innovation that allows possibilities for the benefit of all that we will not achieve with the existing one ».