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Editorial Vol 43 no 3 2018

By : Yonca Hurol

There is an article in this issue about the contribution of balconies to thermal comfort in Indonesia. This article presents how the balconies have been used in very different ways in Indonesia. Finally, the authors suggest designing balconies for the sake of thermal comfort. This article was accepted by the founder and editor of Open House International -Nicholas Wilkinson- before he passed away, because he was very interested in the use of balconies in Cyprus. When I read this article about balconies in Indonesia, I remembered our conversations regarding balconies.

Wilkinson was very much aware that the use of balconies depends on climate as well as culture. Outdoor spaces are not used in some cultures. However, Wilkinson was saying that people in Cyprus like the use of outdoor spaces very much. People in Cyprus go for picnics during the months of spring and summer. They have barbecues. Many people have private houses with gardens and these gardens are used very effectively. They like gardening. They like having animals. They like spending time with their family members and visitors in their gardens. Wilkinson was even saying that Cypriots live outside rather than inside. They even sleep outside during hot nights. Noon time siesta (sleep) might also be in the garden under the shadow taking advantage of the lovely breeze. Gardens are used effectively during the winter months as well. Winters in Cyprus are sunny and they are like English summers. People prefer sunny places without wind in their gardens during the winter.

According to Wilkinson the problem starts when the construction of apartment buildings start in the growing cities of Cyprus. Since Cypriots are used to spend most of their time outside, they need large balconies in their apartment flats to have outdoor spaces. Wilkinson was walking around these apartment buildings and checking their balconies. Do these buildings have balconies? Are they sufficiently large to satisfy the needs of Cypriots? What is their orientation? What is their relation with the prevailing wind? He was very unhappy about most of the balconies of these apartment buildings in Cyprus. Some apartments did not even have balconies. He was becoming angry with these types of buildings. Some balconies were very small and badly oriented. There were even some very small French balconies which were designed to contribute to the façade aesthetics. But they were useless.

Some people used their balconies as a kind of storage and some people covered their balconies and turned them into closed spaces. Wilkinson supported the changes made by people very much. He said that it is better to turn a badly designed balcony into a useful space.

Some lucky people had usable balconies in these apartments. Wilkinson was very interested about what people were doing with their balconies. Do people cook or eat on their balconies? Do they work or read on their balconies? Is it only a place for dad to smoke? Do children play on their balconies? Are they safe for children? What type of furniture do they prefer on their balconies?

Nicholas Wilkinson had lived in an apartment block in Famagusta for fifteen years. I remember very well that his flat had a very nice south balcony. He spent almost all of his time there. The balustrades of his ground floor balcony were always full of flower pots with the most colourful flowers. He cooked (barbecuing) there, ate there, accepted visitors there and worked there. He sat there and said hello to every passerby. His cat Lum-lum was also allowed to use this balcony. They enjoyed the sun together during the winter. In summer, they sat under a large white umbrella. The furniture on that balcony was a nice handmade wooden table, comfortable plastic armchairs, barbecue equipment and flower pots. There were also some decorative objects on the table and on the window sills. There was a large clay cup which was full of dry fruits. There were some metal, ceramic and timber objects which were made by his sons. He left that flat approximately five years ago to live in a house he designed. He also designed a nice garden there. He called himself the “gardener.” He taught landscape to students of architecture at Eastern Mediterranean University for many years. The number of outdoor furniture and decorative objects increased in this house. There were also some small sculptures in this garden. Everything is kept as it was left in this house. However, the balcony in his first flat is currently empty. The new residents do not use it. There is no furniture, no flowers, no animals, nobody.

Yonca Hurol International Technical Editor

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