Watching photos made in Zurich this September, I noticed strange window construction. What does this red wooden box stand for? It's too small to be a balcony - at least for adult human, probably it's done for infants or cats? Another idea - probably it's old-fashioned refrigerator from old times? I have not succeeded trying to find information about it in the Internet.

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    @Willeke seems like there is glassed window inside as well – bsiamionau Nov 21 '19 at 19:40
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    I've notices similar constructions elsewhere in Zurich as well, so they are relatively common. There are glass windows both on the inside (towards the appartment) and on the outside. I've assumed that they were used to keep food cold, but I am not sure. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 21 '19 at 19:48
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I thought about cooling food too, but if it's designed for food, not clear why there is no shelves (like in refrigerator) and why it's transparent (food inside would stay cool longer in dark place without sun light) – bsiamionau Nov 22 '19 at 4:13
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    No idea for sure but my theory: These are flats above shops. Traditionally shop owners would live above their shop. Perhaps it is a display cabinet for the shop's wares? – the other one Nov 22 '19 at 12:34
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    @theotherone thank you so mush for your brilliant idea! I was missing that there is a shop underneath and I found it's name! Using shop's name I found another photos of the same building and guess what I see inside this construction? Flowers! – bsiamionau Nov 22 '19 at 13:41

My guess is that it's for growing flowers and vegetables, simply a small greenhouse. They are sometimes called Greenhouse Windows or Garden Windows.

Because they have windows on 3 sides they'll let in as much sun as possible. They are most effective if put on windows facing south or north.

Being literally on a window you can take the plants indoors during colder nights and days and then put them back out when the sun is shining.

They could double as food storage during longer cooler periods and maybe as ovens during summer.

A greenhouse on a window with flowers arranged.

An indoor view

  • That sound reasonable, thank you for the answer! I like this version the most for the moment, trying to find proofs – bsiamionau Nov 22 '19 at 12:01
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    Thanks to the comments - I found another photos of the same building! And on the most of them I can see flowers inside of the construction! one two three Thank you! – bsiamionau Nov 22 '19 at 13:48

It's a bay window or Oriel window, they are pretty common in German- and English-speaking areas.

  • They have an ornamental role
  • They allow to look left and right of the building (instead of just in front)
  • They allow more light to enter the room
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    Since it doesn't reach the ground, it also belongs to a subset of bay windows called 'oriel windows' - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriel_window – Dave Gremlin Nov 22 '19 at 11:23
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    Thank you for the answer! I see discrepancy between bay windows and construction I posted above. Bay windows usually a part of building, they are extending internal room for the purposes you described. Usually they are made from the same material as building walls, but here I see clearly that this construction is simple addition to existing window. It doesn't look like it was designed as part of building initially. – bsiamionau Nov 22 '19 at 11:56
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    You could add that the floor of such a window makes up for a cozy and bright spot to sit for reading (possibly equipped with some cushions). – asdfex Nov 22 '19 at 13:45
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    @asdfex probably it's not clear from photo, but this windows are not human height high, it's regular windows, height is about 100-110cm – bsiamionau Nov 22 '19 at 13:51

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