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Floor of balcony is 17" thick... how is it framed?

last month

Townhouse built in the 60s-70s, mixed metal and wood framing. The uppermost stairway has vaulted ceiling - so the top floor forms a bit of a balcony over the stairs.
The overhang it forms is 17" thick. I can't imagine the joists are all that wide, so what's going on in all that empty space? What's the usual construction method in this situation - drop the ceiling beneath, or raise the floor above?
(Yes, I realize there's the carpeting, padding, subfloor, etc, and then the drywall on the underside, so I know the entire 17" isn't joist... but even if it were a 12" joist, that still leaves some space unaccounted for!)

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