While you probably won't find a porch in Europe, you will find a similar space by another name. There's verandah or piazza in England, galerie in France, portale in Spain, and of course loggia in Italy. The Oxford Dictionaries describe the word loggia as "a gallery or room with one or more open sides, especially one that forms part of a house and has one side open to the garden." Its origin is from the mid-18th century from the Italian word for "lodge." The term is somewhat antiquated and most often associated with older European buildings, such as the Royal Albert Hall, a concert hall that has loggia box seating.
What Is a Loggia?
A loggia is the Italian word for a typical American porch. It's a sheltered outdoor space that's attached to the main residence. It can be enclosed on some or all of its sides, too.
Most loggias are part of a house and are distinguished by arches and columns. If the term is used to describe an outdoor area of a house that is not a historical landmark, it's probably just serving as a glamorous word for a patio, porch, or balcony thought up by a real estate agent or creative committee of a home and garden tour. But that doesn't mean homes that aren't historical can't have loggias in some form or another.
Loggias in Contemporary Design
When used in contemporary architectural, interior, or landscape design, the word loggia sometimes ends up being whatever the designer—or client—wants it to be.
Some designers tout "loggia rooms" that combine Italian architecture with old-world craftsmanship for a Mediterranean look. These loggia rooms generally have an open-air outer wall that's supported by columns to give it that perfect ancient touch. Loggias can further tap into their Italian or Greek roots with materials, such as brick, stone, steel, glass, and genuine marble.
The Loggia Test
A true loggia has distinct architectural features that set it apart from other rooms, structures, and outdoor spaces. Key traits of a loggia include the following:
- It is traditionally located on the lower or ground level of a home.
- It projects or is built out from the house toward the front or back garden or into a courtyard.
- At least one wall connects to the main structure.
- It is supported by columns and arches (colonnades), which provide detail, privacy, and shelter.
- When a loggia faces a courtyard, it is only accessible via the interior of the house. In other words, you first have to go inside the structure to eventually go outside onto the loggia.
- A main purpose of a loggia is to allow air to circulate throughout the house.
Notable Buildings With Loggias
If you're determined to build a true loggia, look to the masters for guidance and inspiration. Some notable buildings that have loggias include:
- The Loggia dei Lanzi, also known as the Loggia della Signoria, is a building in Florence, Italy.
- The Armstrong Kessler Mansion in Savannah, Georgia, was built in 1917, and its Italian Renaissance Revival style includes a loggia.
- The Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, also known as the Loggia del Porcellino, is a building in Florence, Italy.
- La Loggia restaurant, Villa San Michele, is in Fiesole, Italy.
- The Sydney Opera House added a loggia in 2008.
- Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, features loggias on its main quad.
- Edificio La Inmobiliaria in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has a loggia.
- Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has loggias that frame a quad.