A loggia is the Italian word for the good old-fashioned American porch: a sheltered outdoor space attached to the main residence that's either partially open or enclosed on some or all sides to make a room.* While you probably won't find a porch in Europe, you will find a similar space by another name, like 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." Also, "an open-sided extension to a house." Its origin is from the mid-18th century: from Italian, it means 'lodge.'
The term is somewhat antiquated and most often associated with older European buildings like the Royal Albert Hall, which has loggia box seating.
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, the term is probably a glamorous word for a patio, porch, or balcony thought up by an uninformed real estate agent or the creative committee of a home and garden tour. Don't feel inadequate if your home doesn't have a loggia—it probably does, in some form or other.
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 are described as having an open-air outer wall, supported by columns to give it that perfect ancient touch. Loggias can further tap into their Italian or Greek roots with materials like brick, stone, steel, glass, and maybe genuine marble.
The Loggia Test
A true loggia has distinct architectural features that set it apart from other rooms, structures, and outdoor spaces. Among key traits of a loggia:
- They are 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 loggias face courtyards, they are only accessible via the interior of the house. In others words, you have to first go inside the structure to eventually go outside onto the loggia
- The purpose of a loggia is to allow air to circulate throughout the house and in the loggia, of course
Notable Buildings With Loggias
If you're determined to build a true loggia, look to the masters for guidance and inspiration.
The Loggia dei Lanzi, also called the Loggia della Signoria, which is a building on a corner of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy.
- The Armstrong Kessler Mansion in Savannah, Georgia, built in 1917 and designed by architect Henrik Wallis
- The Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, popularly known as the Loggia del Porcellino, which is a building in Florence, Italy
- La Loggia Restaurant, Villa San Michele, which 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
- Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has loggias that frame a quad