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House Whitfield
South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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The house was designed for a retiring couple who wished to be elevated with nature and for the house to comprise of a single main bedroom with Living and kitchen amenities. A guest suite also needed to be incorporated for their visiting children. Other than these specifics they were happy to leave the brief open for interpretation; however the budget was non-negotiable at R1.5mil. Due to these budget constraints, especially with a sloping site of such magnitude, DMV Architecture was appointed not only as Architect, but was responsible to oversee all construction works which included project management together with the task of contractor. Through careful design and consideration, the seed idea was able to develop into a rational interpretation which could easily be implemented. The main design notion was to develop a striking design yet at low cost by formulating a dynamic main frame which other lightweight secondary elements could slide or clip into. The two structural elements would work together, yet visually appose each other. The house, 167m² in total, therefore consists of a suspended oblique steel portal frame that allows for a design that would not require costly retaining wall structures and the like. The secondary element, which forms the envelope of the house, was constructed using LSF (Light Steel Frame) and double glazed elements fitted independently within the portal frame. The 100mm wide LSF is pumped with light weight EPS concrete (concrete/recycled polystyrene ball mix) which gives the structure its necessary sound and thermal insulation qualities. Re-used milled polystyrene is utilised as the aggregate filler in the EPS concrete. The overall application provides a cleaner and safer site environment, with a lighter disturbance footprint, ideal for sensitive sites. Further to the above the roof of this LSF structure is completely separated from the portal frame creating in essence, ‘a roof under a roof’ that allows for excess heat build-up from the primary roof layer to be naturally ventilated. The site was extremely steep, difficult to access and in a sensitive area. The LSF application, allows for lighter foundation applications, in this case a suspended platform, with minimal impact on the natural topography and therefore reduced costs on foundations or the requirement for any major earthworks. LSF also offers an extremely accurate application in terms of its factory precision and tolerances, which was ideal for this project. The oblique steel frame and integration between this and the LSF secondary structure was a challenge to marry the two dynamically and for them to still form their independent roles, i.e. structural frame vs. building envelope. The LSF also had a major structural role independent of the main frame. The main portal frame is a completely ‘bolted’ structure, which allows for ease of dismantling or extending along the grid. The core component, steel, is a 100% recyclable product, with a 600 year lifespan. The particular fibre cement boards used are of a cellulose makeup, which is environmentally more sustainable.
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