Concrete House

Johannesburg / South Africa / 2016

30
30 Love 4,275 Visits Published

From inception of this project; the clients’ brief, existing house and contextual setting were all factors to carefully consider before pursuing the extensive alterations and additions to a modest hillside house. From theory to documentation and ultimate implementation, the project was guided by this clear understanding.


Situated in Bedfordview and bordering a serene nature reserve, the altered house is perched on the steep face of the hillside, seemingly sliding down the hill. This concrete hillside extension was carved out and excavated, resulting in various internal voids that formed the various spaces required by the clients’ program.


From a conceptual point of view, the architecture aimed to act as an extension to the rocky hillside, with the occupants seemingly inhabiting a mountain face. This structure is firmly rooted through impressive engineering, while also protruding out of the hillside as if it were shaped and morphed over time into its current condition.


The translation of the concept becomes evident upon approach and entry to the house, where the large 4.8m high and 3.6m wide, 4-ton cast-in-situ garage doors are a result of the clients’ brief and of the molded and chamfered shapes of the extruded edges, mimicking the shape of the stone and the hillside.


The entrance courtyard is intended to resemble a portion of an excavation of the hillside, with large slabs of exposed aggregate paving fragmented with inlayed strip lights depicting the Morse code translation of the clients’ family name. This excavated portion is further enhanced by carving the entrance through the solid face into the interior (hillside). The material translation of the concept resulted in the dominant use of concrete due to the mass, solidity and firmness associated with it.


This overarching concept was critical in determining the treatment of spaces, rooms and in-between linkages. The use of concrete was offset and softened by the use of timber, enhanced with the implementation of marble and contrasted by mild steel elements, malleable ceilings and clear glass for filtering light into the house. This understanding and implementation was designed by M Square Lifestyle Design.


Upon entry through the carved entrance and double volume foyer, the planning on this level is clear and distinct. The foyer forms an integral part in the circulation of the house, acting as the central spine for air moving up and down and separates the service spaces from the entertainment areas on the lower level. The entertainment area, comprising of a formal and secluded cigar lounge and wine cellar resembles a cave. A billiard room, barbeque and indoor swimming pool rests discreetly below the main living areas. As orientation of the house is North, this entire space connects seamlessly to the garden using fully glazed folding doors.
The internal finishes reiterate the notion of privacy as well as the freedom that comes with entertainment. Barrisol ceilings were used for uninterrupted lighting, while Pandomo stucco wall finishes were applied to enhance the sophistication of the entertainment area. Oak paneling was applied to soften the palette for a more relaxed environment.


The ground level follows a similar pattern as the lower level: The circulation core comprises of a three-storey stairwell and lift shaft which separates the private familial functions such as the gymnasium, study and home theater, from the more public spaces such as the bar, dining area, lounge and kitchen.


The large public areas of uninterrupted space have generous views onto Johannesburg and the aperture selection and placing of openings were carefully considered to enhance these views, while adhering to the necessary control of sunlight.


The lower level swimming pool is part of this volume, humidifying the space on warmer days, thus it was critical to install an intelligent skylight to create adequate ventilation.
The gymnasium and other private areas were carefully considered in their arrangement and
placing, while the finishes implemented suit the function of the space. Sculptures by Regardt van der Meulen were used in the foyer as well as the dining room, giving an additional dimension.


To the south of the house, the location and consideration of an atrium thereby acts as an invitation to nature while also granting access to the guest wing which was cut into the slope of the hill.


On the first floor, the private spaces of the house were organised around a courtyard/atrium, with the main suite situated to the North East, thereby absorbing most of the eastern morning sun and shielding from the harsh western sun. In accordance to the clients’ brief, the four children’s bedrooms were all crafted to assume their own character and language. These spaces, as formal and private as they are, seem less so due to its elevation, connection to the hillside and relationship between one another. Open balconies, atria and external walkways give the private bedrooms and bathrooms plenty of fresh air.


The gazebo/boma space is accessed via a free form concrete staircase and elevated around the indigenous trees on the hillside. Lightly touching the earth is a steel walkway. The gazebo is perched at a much higher level than the home, affording breathtaking views of the city of Johannesburg.


The furniture and decor seen throughout the house was supplied by M Square Lifestyle Necessities, an up-market furniture and décor showroom with a selection of the finest imported furniture from design studios around the world, and the interior design was done by M Square Lifestyle Design.


This house is a statement and testament to the contextualisation of architecture, the enhancement of material technology and of a holistic understanding and implementation of making a house a home. 

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    From inception of this project; the clients’ brief, existing house and contextual setting were all factors to carefully consider before pursuing the extensive alterations and additions to a modest hillside house. From theory to documentation and ultimate implementation, the project was guided by this clear understanding. Situated in Bedfordview and bordering a serene nature reserve, the altered house is perched on the steep face of the hillside, seemingly sliding down the hill. This...

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