Terrace vs Balcony: Difference and Comparison

Terraces may also be completely isolated and detached from buildings.


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A balcony refers to a platform protruding from the walls of a building. Balconies are always connected to rooms –or corridors- within the residence and have parapets enclosing them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Terraces are outdoor, level spaces connected to a building, on the ground or rooftop; balconies are elevated platforms attached to the exterior of a building and accessed from an upper floor.
  2. Terraces provide larger outdoor areas for gatherings and landscaping; balconies offer smaller, private spaces for individuals or small groups.
  3. Terraces generally have direct access to the ground or a rooftop; balconies are supported by columns or cantilevered from the building’s structure.

Terrace vs. Balcony

Terraces are outdoor spaces located at ground level or on the roof of a building, paved or tiled, with features such as seating areas, planters, and outdoor cooking facilities. Balconies are platforms that protrude from a building and are enclosed by a railing or balustrade.

Terrace vs Balcony

The access to a balcony is limited and guarded by a single gateway, as it is located within the residence. Due to its location, a balcony is much more enclosed than a terrace.

A terrace is comparatively more exposed and also encompasses multiple entry points.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTerraceBalcony
LocationA terrace is commonly located on a rooftop or a raised platform.A balcony is always located as an extension of a room or corridor. It is an architectural structure protruding out of a building.
SizeTerraces are large open spaces.The size of a balcony is much smaller than that of a terrace.
Special OrganizationTerraces are large spaces. They are famed for their spacious character.The walls of the building enclose balconies, the parapet, or with rails. They are partially open but are much more restricted than terraces.
AccessibilityAs large open spaces, they can have multiple access points.They can only be accessed through the indoor rooms and corridors as enclosed spaces.
Architectural OrientationThey can be constructed as standalone structures.They cannot be constructed as standalone structures.

What is a Terrace?

Originating from the Latin linguistic family, the word terrace connotes ‘earth.’ Terraces have been an indispensable and conspicuous part of architecture since pre-historic times.

They were a prominent part of Greek architectural designs. Terraces are large, open, spacious areas commonly located on the rooftops of buildings.

However, they can also be constructed on raised platforms outdoors. The distinguishing feature of a terrace is its spacious location.

Usually, there are multiple access points to enter a terrace. This is because it is a relatively open space.

Throughout history, their usage has varied. During the medieval age, the Egyptians used them as primary gardening spaces.

In 1500s Venice, they were used as spaces for laundry. Rooftop terraces gained immense popularity in New York during the 1890s.

The rooftop summer party trend gripped New York’s social elites. They are commonly used for recreational purposes like sitting, strolling, or gardening.


What is a Balcony?

Much literature has been produced about the use and importance of balconies. They have a rather interesting and eventful history of evolution.

Greek architecture has beautiful balconies interspersed throughout its landscape. In certain languages, the term balcony means a large window.

The consistency in all the varied definitions of a balcony is that it is an enclosed space that protrudes from a building. It is connected to corridors or rooms inside the residence.

Much like terraces, their usages have changed over the years. The role of balconies in the advent of surveillance mechanisms has also been widely studied.

They were used by rulers in ancient Rome to address gatherings. They were initially developed as natural ventilators to filter in sunlight and fresh air effectively.

Over the years, this function has remained constant, but other social uses have been added to balconies. They are frequently used as spaces for spending leisurely time.

The aesthetic importance of balconies has been augmented over the years. The only permissible access pathways to balconies are through the rooms and corridors of the indoor space.


Main Differences Between Terrace and Balcony

  1. The first important difference between the two is in terms of their location. Terraces are located on rooftops or raised platforms. They may also be located in the space adjoining buildings. Balconies, on the other hand, are located as adjunct architectural features of buildings. They are architectural forms protruding from buildings and enclosed with walls.
  2. The accessibility of terraces and balconies is also quite different. Terraces are more easily accessible than balconies, as they are open spaces. They can have multiple access points. Balconies are solely accessible through indoor rooms and corridors.
  3. The next difference between the two is in terms of spatial organization. Terraces are inevitably open spaces. Balconies, on the other hand, are enclosed spaces. They are enclosed with walls or railings and can never be open spaces.
  4. The difference in the size of the two structures also posits a valid point of difference. A terrace is a much larger space compared to a balcony. Due to the location of a balcony, its size is invariably smaller than a terrace.
  5. Terraces can be standalone structures. They can be constructed on rooftops or as extensions of the building. But they can also be constructed as detached structures on raised platforms. Balconies can only be constructed as an extension of indoor spaces. They cannot be constructed as standalone structures.
Difference Between Terrace and Balcony
  1. https://libarynth.org/_media/roofgarden_thesis.pdf
  2. https://www.agriculturejournals.cz/web/hortsci.htm?type=article&id=166_2018-HORTSCI
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