An ode to the humble balcony

In The New York Times, Bernardo Zacka writes: "[A balcony] is private, yet public; exposed, yet secluded. It offers company without the demands of intimacy, and we should never take it for granted again."

detail, illustration by Maria Meden, The New York Times

"As an intermediary space, the balcony supports a distinctive type of reserved sociability. Its contiguity with the dwelling facilitates access to city life just as easily as it enables withdrawal from it." 

— Bernardo Zacka, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Research and Perspectives for the Pandemic
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"My toddler and I have a new favorite activity: craning our necks to catch a glimpse of the neighbors. Since we have been instructed to stay at home in our apartment in a triple-decker in Somerville, Mass., we have gotten quite good at it.

"If we place ourselves at the bottom left corner of the living room window around 6 pm, and press our cheeks hard against the glass, we might just catch them staring blankly at the empty street. The other day, our eyes met across the driveway, yet there was none of the usual awkwardness — being stared at felt more like a relief than an invasion. Before the pandemic, I had never spoken to them, but right now even these stolen glances feel like a precious form of contact.

"When I first saw the videos coming from Italy under lockdown, with people quarantined in their apartments connecting through music, my first reaction was one of awe. My second was one of longing for the architectural element that made these gatherings possible: the balcony."

Full commentary at The New York Times

Bernardo Zacka; photo by Stuart Darsch


Suggested links

Bernardo Zacka's MIT webpage

MIT Political Science

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