3 liminal spaces we need more of in four season climates

I’ve always been fascinated by liminal spaces.

This is the experience of the Inside-Outside-Edge between buildings and the outdoor.

Liminal spaces extend the comforts of the indoor environment, especially for temperate climates that can be both moderately hot (25-30°C) and cold (-15-20°C).

These are the three liminal spaces I wish we’d see more of:

1. Balcony conversions to solarium

In places like Toronto and Oslo, balconies have very limited utility other than being used during summer. There’s a real opportunity to convert this space to an enclosed solarium and something with greater usefulness for the residents (if we look past the hurdle that balconies are often counted as owned by the condo corp and not the unit owners).

2. Bay windows and other window ledge seats

There is just something so inviting about a bay window to me. Bay windows bring lots of light into a room, create a natural-sized nook for hanging in, and depending on the season, it can be a cooler or hotter part of the room. It begs to be fitted out with seating, so humans can copy cats in their window ledge activities.

3. Large ground floor openings

Whether facilitated through sliding doors, folding doors, stable doors or garage doors, I love to see a ground floor use that spills out onto the street. Because it happens so rarely or for such a short time, I especially savour the experiences where the climate is comfortable enough to allow air to freely flow between the inside and outside of buildings.

In summary, liminal spaces can be

  • thresholds, like the space next to windows that can be a very different temperature from the rest of the room,
  • rooms, like a solarium or foyer, or
  • zones, like when a restaurant facade opens like a garage door and can freely spill out into the street

By intentionally building liminal spaces, we are creating spaces that help us expand or extend the comforts of our habitations, increasing our opportunities to connect with the outdoors during all seasons.

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