On the Tropic of Capricorn, where the heat is excessive, houses require specialized treatments in ensuring that additions and alterations take this factor into account.
And so, the client approached Nico van der Meulen Architects only after careful consideration, in the hope that the Architects could help redesign and style their outdated home in Limpopo.
Werner van der Meulen took up the challenge, knowing that his task was to turn an unattractive face brick house (which wasn’t very well designed either!) into something stunning and modern.
Although initially the client only requested the entrance, living and entertainment areas redesigned, on presentation of the plan they agreed on having an inviting entrance with water features and the living areas opened up. The bedroom section was planned to then feature an “old school” style long, dark passage and to have an additional guest bedroom.
The existing single storey house, 343 sqm on a 1132sqm stand, quickly became a double storey 494sqm building!
The internal alterations were extensive: steel was used in varied forms, double volume areas were added and large expanses of opening glass was chosen to allow in as much natural light as possible, without inundating the house with sun all year round. In fact, the design is such that the sun is let into the house only in winter. The lightweight and well insulated structure of the house is also part of the design, so that it cools down quickly in the evening. The water features and the pool also helped creating a natural cooling system.
The existing living room was opened up and a double volume area was created. To achieve an open feel of the living room, frameless folding doors were put in place so that the house could become a veranda when required. To connect the lower and the upper areas, Werner designed a magnificent and distinctive staircase highlighted by specialized designer lighting. To enable the staircase to float, Nico came up with a solution of a buried 6 cubic meters concrete block in which the staircase was anchored.
The completely separate bedroom wing of the house was opened up to include vast expanses of glass and is accessed by an existing bridge over the existing swimming pool. The glass sliding doors were situated on both sides of the bedroom wing thus enabling cross draught ventilation at all times. The glass sliding doors were fitted with steel horizontal shutters for sun control.
The architect’s in-house interior design department, M Square Lifestyle Design, run by Phia van der Meulen was responsible for the interior design.
Phia has a master degree in architecture and nearly ten years experience at Nico van der Meulen Architects and understands the overall holistic approach between architecture and interior, and was appointed by the clients to design all of the finishes which include lighting, fixtures and fittings, cladding, as well as specifying the furniture which is mostly Molteni sourced from M Square Lifestyle Necessities.
The use of exterior louvers influenced the design of the horizontal groove lines on the double volume plaster wall in the dining room, to create interest and character to an otherwise boring wall, which was further enhanced by low horizontal ledges with built in feature fireplace and selected works of art. The paint colours were chosen carefully to complement one another as well as rusted corten steel which added creative interest.
The staircase leading up to the first floor was further enhanced by the Floss hanging pendant lights leading the eye vertically towards the double volume ceiling, creating an overall and pleasing integrated area.
The swimming pool patio/braai area is encapsulated by a timber horizontally slatted feature wall, which wraps up to the underside of the ceiling, beautifully lit and intentionally reflects back into the black painted swimming pool with timber decking surround, which creates an illusion of enclosing this space.
Furniture was purposely selected to compliment the architecture and interior design, and the brief by client of minimalistic opulence, supplied mainly by Molteni and C, Floss, Kundalini and Royal Botania outdoor furniture.
As the building system was foreign to the local builders in the area, the architects had to coach them through the construction to ensure the vision created would be realized.
The entire team involved in this project as well as the clients, are extremely proud and happy with the superb end result of a project well executed!
Location: Louis Trichardt, ZA
Additional Credits: Pictures by David Ross and Nico van der Meulen