Cost-effective Windoor balcony enclosures improve wellbeing
Windoor balcony enclosures not only increase the light inside a home but they allow for an outside seating space which can be enclosed on cooler spring and autumn days – therefore extending balcony use more than a traditional design.
The balcony enclosures can be fully opened up when the resident wants to bask in the summer sunshine, and for the chillier days the system has a unique track which allows all the panels to slide and turn inwards. They are then secured safely and discreetly against the inner wall.
Here, Housing Association magazine editor Victoria Galligan speaks to the Windoor team about the benefits of the products' design, and finds out why they are a popular choice for the housing sector…
1. When did Windoor begin trading and who are your biggest customers?
Of Scandinavian origin, the Windoor system was originally developed in 1984. The balcony living spaces have been installed in the UK since 1999 with Windoor UK Limited formed in 2005. Now part of WinGroup AG, we have, for over two decades, partnered with all members of each project supply chain. Housing associations, local authorities and private developers are our biggest customers and we work alongside leading-edge architects and main contractors providing support including initial advice, help with the tendering process, installation and handover.
2. Are the balcony enclosures energy efficient?
Yes – because they act as a buffer zone between the outside and inside of a home, the inside will be warmer from the solar heat, reducing the need for artificial heating. Solar energy, even on overcast days, naturally warms the space. Ideally there should be a solid floor or wall to absorb the solar energy during the day and give off the heat at night. And as the sunspace is not heated artificially, it can be single glazed. Any wind is kept out of the internal space which would naturally cool the room via the wind chill effect.
Meanwhile, the openable glazing allows natural ventilation into the building to reduce the need for air conditioning in the summer.
3. How are the balcony enclosures made secure and private?
The upper glazing has a secure locking system which means that it not only provides a barrier to unwanted intrusion, but it provides security for the elderly and a safe place for young children to play.
Privacy screening and opaque glazing are available to offer extra privacy.
4. What are the benefits to health and wellbeing of having an outdoor space?
It is well documented that fresh air and natural daylight have health benefits for Residents. The more days they can use their balcony space, the more they benefit. This additional time spent on the balcony enhances the neighbourhood watch effect, both for their own property and the surrounding grounds.
Noise is a factor too – when the balcony is closed it has noise reduction properties of up to 17db which can make a significant improvement to wellbeing in densely populated areas or road and railside locations.
5. How do the balcony enclosures help the tenant and the owner to save money?
The property owner benefits as a balcony enclosure provides a secondary façade to the main fabric of the building – therefore protecting that primary façade, reducing future maintenance costs. Frequently, experience has shown that a balcony enclosure improves a residents lifestyle to the extent that they take more pride in their home so it is less likely to be neglected and fall into disrepair. A happy tenant is a stable tenant – this means that tenant turnover and associated costs are also reduced.
6. What makes specifiers choose Windoor over your competitors?
Firstly, we have a good track record of projects – we’ve been installing in the UK since 1999 and in northern Europe since the early 80s. Secondly, our products are affordable. We offer very competitive prices which are attractive to HAs. Thirdly, we offer a very good quality product which is aesthetically pleasing. Windoor products are robust and well installed – this means we don’t get called back to sort out problems as the products work so well.
Chris Parr from Northampton Partnership Homes has worked with Windoor on several projects, as part of a 10-year programme with the firm which is still ongoing.
Chris said: “We have done four projects with Windoor in the past 18 months – from a housing block which is 10 storeys high to a mixed estate where the winter gardens were installed.
“On one project of five blocks, which are three and five storeys high, Windoor replaced the handrails on the walkways and created glazed, modern spaces for people to step out of their front doors onto.
“Initially we began working with Windoor purely because of the hardwearing products on offer. Windoor's managing director John Baillie made the whole process simple in terms of specification.
“And since the programme began, we have found that the balcony enclosures have introduced colour into our properties instead of the black or grey used previously. This has really brightened up our estates.”
For more information, see windooruk.co.uk