Democratic outdoor living

To outfit the small area of an apartment balcony, creating a green urban bubble in which to seek refuge, hopefully with a vegetable garden and a corner for working. You can do it with the Urban Balcony project created by Meneghello Paolelli for Unopiù. A special mention at the German Design Awards 2021

Outdoor domestic spaces in the city are reduced, in most cases, to a few square meters, often demoted to the status of a storeroom. The Covid emergency has reminded us, instead, of just how vital they are, as proven by the growth in value of properties that have them. Unopiù has developed an idea with Sandro Meneghello and Marco Paolelli at the right time to expand the potential of these spaces, in terms of psycho-physical wellbeing, also thanks to the new corporate management that began working two years ago, and immediately focused on product innovation, seen as a fundamental factor for the future.

Urban Balcony gets away from classic scenarios, though it has been developed on a grid – a clear tribute to the designers of the company’s past – but in a decidedly advanced version. From the ladder-like structure in iroko wood, 3 modules of different sizes and widths to adapt to any spatial solution are deployed in infinite configurations, all ready to be modified when necessary, depending on personal needs.
The sturdy skeleton attached to the wall or ceiling, or to another module for the U-shaped solutions, is equipped with adjustable feet to follow the slope of the floor, and outfitted with a series of accessories in white aluminium, to generate multiple settings.


Shelves, single planters and storage elements permit actions previously unthinkable in such small spaces, nimbly combining outdoor and indoor dynamics. A movable table conceals a rack for hanging laundry, to perform a function that is not continuous. Both can be dismantled, closing towards the wall.
The designers have also envisioned a possible ‘garden office’ – during the lockdown smart working was often done, in a makeshift way, on balconies – with electrical sockets and the insertion of a sunscreen to refract light, inserted thanks to a zipper on the last rung. “An intelligent hybrid system to take these spaces more seriously – Meneghello Paolelli remark – whose value lies in improvement and a response to the needs of the contemporary world.”

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An open system, because of its modular design and ongoing evolution. “Urban Balcony continues to grow – the designers say – so new added elements are now ready, and others are being developed for next year. For example, the greenhouse that makes it possible to create a small urban garden. Furthermore, we are working on a new type of seating and a table, which both fold in an unprecedented way, using new technologies or reinterpreting others borrowed from other sectors.” When asked to comment on the special mention for the German Design Awards 2021, they respond: “We are pleased that the content was appreciated, prior to the aesthetics; this project has a lot to narrate, above all because complex thinking lies behind apparently simple objects. Content is king!”