Situated in a residential estate on the fringe of the east of Pretoria, the house is positioned on a large stand measuring 5000m². With a moderate north-western slope, one of the design challenges was to effectively place the large single storey house on the stand, without fragmenting the footprint of the building. The building was positioned as close to the street as possible for easy access and approach. Accessing the stand from the south, visitors are guided by the natural rock cladded wall and water feature towards a large glass front door at the end of an exposed walkway.
Conceptually the house consists of two main wings, i.e. the northern wing and the southern wing. To allow for maximum exposure to the north, these two wings are not placed directly opposite each other, but rather separated diagonally on plan. A third movement spine is transversally placed between the wings, linking the internal spaces together and enabling north-south circulation through the house.
The client’s brief was simple – a 4-bedroom single storey house with a linked apartment for granny. The northern wing of the house is the private side, reserved for the bedrooms, bathrooms, and granny’s apartment. Each north-facing bedroom has large doors opening onto patios and sheltered from the sun with broad roof overhangs. The southern wing is the public side of the house, and contains the open plan living spaces, outdoor entertainment areas, and functional amenities. The temperate climate of the region allows the building to have large glass sliding doors that open onto the covered patio and sheltered courtyard spaces, establishing a strong relationship with the outdoor landscape. These sliding doors allow for maximum cross-ventilation, lowering the temperature of the interior space in the summer months. To the west of the house, the harsh sunlight is partially blocked by the careful placement of solid structures, reducing heatgain to these facades.
Various cool to warm shades of architectural grey paint colours and off-shutter concrete soffits are balanced with warm timber surfaces in both vertical and horizontal applications. To the north of the house, sunlight is filtered through timber and steel shading panels, casting an array of shadows into the interior. Forming part of the green brief, the client requested the house to be fitted with a self-contained sewer system with zero discharge into the municipal sewer connection; a borehole for fresh water supply; and an electrical system to allow for future expansion of a photovoltaic system, enabling independent power supply. Clean effluent of the sewer system is pumped to water collection tanks on the highest point of the stand, and then utilized to irrigate the garden. This house can therefor in future be a 100% off-grid sustainable solution.
Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
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