Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Saving Grace?

These balconies can be the saving grace of apartments in the city. Housing can be dispiriting, especially where cubes upon cubes are the order of the day. Yet a balcony offers a subversive space where precious few rules seem to be invoked. The balcony is a sunning area, a storage facility, a barbecue area, a garden or even a place for the washing machine. One that I saw in London had a small garden painted on its concrete floor! There is of course a need for very fixed locations in city accommodation - like a cooking area for example. But balconies are not so fixed in the way they are employed by their users. The Juliet balcony took its name from the Shakespeare play - and although the ones in the picture are not Juliet balconies per se, they are as much in the public realm as was Juliet's (the Juliet balcony was part of an upper floor, with walls on the side and a balustrade at the front). My point is that Shakespeare let Romeo and Juliet appropriate the balcony for sexuality - more in the realm of play than work - and in doing so assisted balconies in general to provide city dwellers with a flexible area that lies somewhat outside the dominance of bourgeois space.