One thing that struck me most during my visits to some cities in Ukraine was the quaint sight of the balconies and winter gardens.
The residential buildings that the past century and the Soviet era left behind often come across rather massive and very often rigidly ordered. Well-arranged and often standardized façades express discipline and equality. This uniform backdrop very often poses a strong contrast to the shed like hotchpotch of the balconies and what has become of them. Look up those buildings and you will find the uniformity scrapped. Instead you will face a seemingly uncontrolled growth of balcony extensions, claddings and transformations. In fact, you will find as many shapes and materials as there are balconies.
With no regulation being noticeable, the question of what to do with the balcony seems to be entirely left to the owner of the apartment. Given the harsh climate, many had opted for a winter garden. Fewer had kept their open balconies, either due to their preference or their lack of money. Lack of money however did not stop others from setting their own hand to cladding their balcony anyway. Various ‘lost and found’ materials featured on the façades are proof.
One might be inclined to praise this ‘outer layer of individuality’ as a refresher to the standardized fronts of the often huge blocks. And yes, we do see a richness of ideas and the buildings do appear more organic and alive. On some ends the Do-it-yourself character is quite charming, while on others it is just a mess. Sadly, in some cases, the overall appearance resembles a vertical slum.
See for yourself. What do you think?
All the pictures are taken in Kiev, Ukraine.
Berlin & Tallinn
Architect, Writer, Explorer, Metrokit Pioneer;
Has lived in: Braunschweig, Bremen, Liverpool, Vancouver, London, Moscow and now Tallinn.