House Wisse, Monaghan Farm
Robert Serman Architects - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
A house in the veld, a house in the sun. House Wisse is a home that looks to embrace the beautiful landscape that it sits in and is designed to integrate with its immediate surrounding while framing and capturing the distant views towards the surrounding valleys and ‘koppies’. The sloping site is respected and is experienced as one circulates through the home, gently dropping from level to level. Ones relationship to natural ground level continually shifts between being upon, within or proud thereof. The strong connection with the landscape is further emphasised through breaking down the mass of the building and staggering the plan, thereby weaving landscape and house together. The narrow volumes of the house ensure that one’s eye is always drawn outwards whether it be into an intimate courtyard or towards the vast distant views. The architecture looks to passively control light and temperature. This is achieved through creating a thoroughly insulated envelope (floor, cavity wall and ceilings) and relying on simple principles of cross ventilation as well as deep roof overhangs and louvred screens and shutters as shading devices. The sliding shutters allow one to adapt and modulate the spaces based on the time of day or year. The expression of these lighter filigree elements contrast with the heavier masonry, steel and concrete elements. Although the material palette is restrained a range of textures are explored within one material for instance, the concrete finishes range from Board-formed to Off-shutter and polished. This honest and varied approach leads to the visual richness and character of the spaces. The natural pool with its planted filter zone serve to further integrate the home within its natural setting and the water tank that sits alongside the pool, and under the deck, has a capacity to store 40 000 litres of harvested rainwater. House Wisse or, ‘Sonvanger’ as its inhabitants affectionately call it, stands as a home where one can leave their troubles at the door and where one is invited to connect with nature through observing the subtle shifts in its daily and seasonal rhythms.