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Concrete House
South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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The house perches on the steep face of the hillside, seemingly sliding down the hill. This nature informed the architectural concept and guiding principles behind the making of space and formation of the architecture: Rockface Extension. The translation of the concept becomes evident upon entry and approach to the house, where the 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 shaping of the stone and the hillside. The entrance courtyard is intended to resemble a portion of an excavation of the hillside, fragmented with inlayed strip lights depicting the morse code translation of the clients family name. Upon entry through the carved entrance, the double volume foyer, which forms an integral part in the circulation of the house, acting as the central spine for moving up and down, separates the service spaces from the entertainment spaces on this lower level. This area comprises of a formal Cigar lounge and wine cellar resembling a cave in the hill, billiards room, barbeque area and an indoor swimming pool, connecting seamlessly to the garden. The ground level follows a similar pattern, in that the circulation core, comprised of a three-storey stairwell and lift shaft, separates the private familial functions, gymnasium, study and home theater, from the more public spaces such as the bar, dining area, lounge and kitchen, while the service spaces are excavated in the hillside. The public areas on this level are conceived as an extension to the daily lives of the occupants, where open plan living and functions are important. From this large uninterrupted space, the views onto Johannesburg are generous and the aperture selection and placing of openings are carefully considered to enhance views, while adhering to the necessary control of sunlight. Ventilation of this space is critical as the lower level swimming pool is part of this volume, humidifying the space on warmer days. To regulate this, an intelligent skylight was installed to ventilate the spaces adequately. To the south of the house, an atrium space acts as an invitation to nature while also granting access to the guest wing. On the first floor, the private spaces of the house are organised around this courtyard/atrium space, with the main Suite situated to the North East, thereby absorbing most of the eastern morning sun and being shielded by the harsh western sun. The four children’s bedrooms are all considered and crafted specifically according to the clients brief, with each assuming its own character and language. Open balconies, atria and external walkways afford the private bedrooms and bathrooms the opportunity to breathe, thereby removing the sense of seclusion and ultimately affording the private spaces some freedom. The gazebo/boma is accessed via a free form concrete staircase, and elevated amongst the indigenous trees on the hillside. It is perched at a much higher level than the home, affording breathtaking views of the city of Johannesburg.
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