courtyard house

Pretoria, South Africa

Situated in a high-density residential estate, the Courtyard House is positioned on a narrow stand measuring only 12m in width. With a steep northern slope and natural rocky outcrops, one of the design challenges was to minimize the footprint of the building, in order to create maximum usable outdoor living space. Accessing the stand from the south, visitors arrive at street level, and are then guided down a cascading staircase to the double volume entrance and front door.


Conceptually the house is divided into two blocks separated with a courtyard, and stitched together with a third block that contains the multi-level staircase core linking the various levels. The smaller footprint of the lower levels creates a plinth for the oversized upper levels to rest on. The tension between these blocks is further emphasized by the offset of materials creating a shadow line between the upper and lower levels. Natural rock cladding excavated from the stand, is used throughout the design making reference to the surrounding natural rocky outcrops.


The temperate climate of the region allows the building to have large glass sliding doors that open onto the courtyard, establishing a strong relationship with the outdoor landscape. These sliding doors on either side of the north-facing living space allow for maximum cross-ventilation, lowering the temperature of the interior space in the summer months. Each north-facing bedroom has large doors opening onto a patio and sheltered from the sun with broad roof overhangs. To the west of the house, the harsh sunlight is filtered through timber and steel sliding panels, casting an array of shadows into the interior.


On the lower level the social spaces are linked with an internal walkway and outdoor courtyard. The garage is located on the middle level enabling southern access into the house. The upper levels contain the private spaces, composed of the bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Various cool to warm shades of architectural greys are balanced with warm timber surfaces in both vertical and horizontal applications. Forming part of the green brief, the hidden water collection tanks, gather rainwater from the flat roofs, and then utilized to irrigate the garden.




470, Pienaar Street, Pretoria, South Africa

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