Balconies & private outdoor spaces Print

Design Outcome

Desi​gn Checklist

  1. All apartments have usable private open space (for dining, clothes drying etc)
  2. Balconies and terraces are well designed, have adequate levels of privacy and are responsive to the environment
  3. Balconies and terraces are integrated into the overall architectural form and detail of the building 
  4. Balconies and terraces contribute to the safety and liveliness of the street by creating opportunities for natural surveillance
​​​​​​​​For ground level apartments, the private outdoor space should be provided as a garden, paved terrace (patio) or courtyard area.

For apartments located above the ground floor the private outdoor space should be provided as a balcony (deck). Juliet balconies (a balcony which does not protrude from the building face) do not provide for private outdoor space. 

Private outdoor spaces should be considered and designed as an extension of the apartment with careful attention paid to the design detail of this space.

Ensuring that a good standard of privacy is achieved, both for the residents and for any neighbours, is an important consideration when designing private open space.​

Better Design Practice

All apartments should have a ground level patio, terrace, or balcony.

Ensure the proportion of the private outdoor space corresponds to the size of the apartment. Provide enough space (dining tables / drying racks / barbeques etc) to accommodate the number of residents and allow adequate access and circulation around furniture (dining tables, drying racks, barbeques etc)​​​.

Private outdoor spaces should be located adjacent the main living and dining space of the apartment, and generous access should be provided from the apartment to the outdoor space.

Do not providing climbing aids to gain access into an apartment.

Aim for weathertight level thresholds to balconies, which will allow accessibility for all.

Where possible provide sufficient space for small gardens or plant cultivation. Outdoor taps are a common desire for apartment residents.

Gardens should include a paved area for garden furniture and areas of lawn and planting, which are important for amenity, biodiversity and sustainable urban drainage.

Balcony design

Respond to the local climate and context by locating balconies on north, east or west facing façades, to provide solar access.

Utilise sun screens, pergolas, shutters and opening walls to control sunlight and wind.

Consider the most appropriate balcony type (recessed, cantilevered or partially cantilevered) according to available daylight, wind, acoustic privacy and visual privacy.

Ensure balconies are not so deep that they prevent sunlight entering the apartment below.

Aim for recessed balconies where possible as they provide better privacy, better weather protection and better architectural articulation and façade depth than cantilevered balconies.

In larger apartments, use secondary balconies for clothes drying and accommodating any services. Heat pumps, air conditioning units and other mechanical services can be noisy, and must be located away from outdoor spaces.

Design balustrades to allow views and natural surveillance of the street, while ensuring safety and visual privacy.
Other design considerations include:
  • ​Using solid and transparent materials on balustrades to address sight lines from the street, public domain or adjacent development. For example, glass balustrades do not provide privacy for the balcony or the apartment’s interior, especially at night.
  • Designing balustrades to screen a seated balcony user from any visual intrusion such as views from the public, clothes drying areas, bicycle storage areas, or air conditioning units.
  • Coordinate and integrate building services, such as drainage pipes, with overall façade and balcony design. Downpipes from balconies are often visible from below and detract from the appearance of the façade.
  • In some cases it will be a better design outcome to enclose the balcony. This includes balconies on tall buildings, along busy roads or accessways or other areas where noise and privacy is an issue, and in areas with adverse environmental conditions such as wind.
  • Enclosed balconies should always be in addition to the living area and should still allow for the same uses as an open balcony. These should open for the majority of the wall area above balustrade height, and should be made out of an all weather surface and include a drain.
  • Juliet balconies (typically full height sliding doors with a balustrade but no external deck) are not a replacement for outdoor space and should be provided in addition to a deck.

Rules of Thumb

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