Find out how Charles van Eck completed his ultramodern dream house in KwaZulu-Natal.


Since its introduction to South Africa in 1981 by Tilt Up Technologies (Pty) Ltd, tilt up construction has finally lay to rest any misconception that this system of construction is only suitable for certain types of industrial and commercial buildings.

With the combined effort of the architect and Tilt Up Technologies the construction of this ultramodern, upmarket house proved the adaptability of the system to any type of building. The high-quality finishes and cost-effective final result of this house stands as a monument for tilt up construction.

Built on a site with the most spectacular 180-degree views of a gorge in the Hillcrest area of KwaZulu-Natal, Greg Gordge from Elphick Proome Architects, who coordinated the design and facilitated the integration of the tilt up technology into the design solution, designed a building that blends in perfectly with its natural settings and surroundings.

Designed as a curved structure to maximise the view, every living space in the entire house as well as the heated indoor pool have unrestricted views of the gorge with a central gallery wrapping around the curve shape, and a roof structure of glass and reinzink sheeting that allows natural light into the house.

Some of the challenges in the design and construction were the limited space allowed for the onsite casting of the tilt up wall panels, of which the largest was a 15-metre long curved panel weighing 16 tons. This panel was on a 33 metre radius and only with the use of the tilt up technology was it possible to lift the precast element into its position, without physical damage to the panel or affecting its structural integrity.

Another stunning feature is the precast retaining walls to the circular entrance driveway finished in quartz strip walling. The quartz finish was achieved by casting the stone as part of the precast structural retaining wall in panels 4 metres high by 2,5 metres wide, which was then lifted into position by a crane. By casting the quartz as an integral part of the precast tilt up panel, the labour cost of facing the panel with a quartz finish was dramatically reduced. This finish once again showed the versatility and adaptability of the system.

The house was built on a 12-hectare site and the intention is to build a further eight or ten units using the same design criteria, creating a unique complex with plenty of space per unit. The site has a stream with dams and a waterfall into the gorge.

Tilt up construction was introduced and pioneered in South Africa by Charles van Eck Senior, who comes from a construction family with a long history of constructing prestigious buildings in Durban. Starting his career as an apprentice carpenter, he has over 60 years of experience in the industry and still plays an active part in property development and construction. His son, Charles Junior, has taken up the family tradition with contracts in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, using tilt up construction under the name of Tilt Up Systems CC. Between them they can claim the right of pioneering tilt up construction in South Africa.

Tilt Up Technologies (Pty) Ltd
Tel: 031 7670077