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Muckleneuk Residential Development
South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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While commercial developments often leave little or no room for the poetics of architectural exploration, the design of the Muckleneuk Development offered a rare chance to explore the making of architectural space. The design approach is ultimately rooted in a response to site topography, local material, climate and ecology. Views toward the city played a major role in design strategies. Similarly, exposure to the equatorial window caused weighing up of various orientation alternatives. The design also draws on local examples such as presented in the work of one of Muckleneuk’s favoured sons, Norman Eaton (1902-66). His buildings were always oriented north, he used local materials and sought textures that hailed the continent. In retrospect, Marco Zanuso’s Coromandel House (1979) perhaps also inspired the approach; where “structure becomes folly and seems an already ruinous intrusion into a landscape of sensitive design”. Site strategies were explored at great length. Ultimately instead of terracing the site and allowing cars to access it, a basement was tucked underneath the terrain. This was simplified by the dramatic slope of the site. In addition, units were turned along a north-south axis – ensuring constant views of the city without compromising privacy. While each unit would step along the slope of the site, making each unique; these steps would also allow northern exposure. Thresholds respond to the site, creating anticipation for the expected views. Upon entering, ceilings are slightly lower while spaces feel enclosed. These gradually open onto the views, while becoming both lighter and more spacious. The drama ultimately resolves in the double-volume living room spaces with views onto the city. The scale of the living room responds to that of the city. Sleeping areas on the first floor had to be pulled “apart” subsequently to allow sun exposure and natural ventilation. Local brick will be used while the stone on the site will be re-used for accent walls. The idea is that walls would seemingly dissolve, expanding on the idea of ruins that one often associates with koppies in the area. Some of the existing doors and windows from the existing dilapidated house will be recycled for use in the units. The local climate requires thermal mass, which is effective for approximately half of the winter period and the entire summer. Massive walls contribute to the thermal mass. Overhangs on the other hand, will mediate solar angles – allowing winter sun to penetrate at 41°. Rain water will be harvested and stored in water tanks in the basement, Grey-water will be recycled, Solar-powered geysers will be used, PV panels will be positioned on the roofs of each unit. Energy will be harvested and stored in separate UPS units in the basement for energy security. Each unit is between 344m² – 350m², resulting in coverage of 37%. The FSR equals 0,68. The density, as highlighted earlier in the report, is a direct result of the unique approach to the site, its topography and climatic considerations. All of these aspects are unique to this project.
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