An example of an older, postmodern-style house completed in the 1980s that did not fulfil the requirements of the current owner, Mellet & Human Architects was asked to provide a design proposal addressing the layout requirements, provide a modern look to the house, and to solve structural and damp problems.
The two-level house is situated on a south-entry panhandle stand with northern views in the established neighbourhood of Waterkloof Ridge, Pretoria. However, these northern views were not utilised in the original design and the house was dark and gloomy because of the lack of natural sunlight.
Long, dark passages linked the rooms and levels of the house, while the main bedroom was small. On the lower level, the living areas and kitchen were compartmented, small and divided by the staircase from the upper level. These areas did not link with the pool and there was no covered patio for outside living.
“Our client, a bachelor, wanted a more practical open-plan living layout, linked to a covered patio, a bigger main bedroom and the possibility to have the existing upper bedroom wing function as a separate private flat for renting out,” explains André Mellet of Mellet & Human Architects.
An additional garage had to be added, and externally, the architecture had to be modern with glass incorporated to maximise the views.
The downstairs living areas were opened up and enlarged by removing the existing staircase which previously divided these spaces. A new covered patio and jacuzzi were added, and the pool layout was changed to complement the patio and link with the kitchen and all living areas.
A new centrally positioned staircase in a double-volume space reduced long passages, created a sense of space on the upper level, and lets sunlight in to the lower level of the house. This staircase is close to the entrance foyer and leads down to a lower foyer, linking the living areas and providing access to the new covered patio. A new formal lounge is accessed from the entrance foyer and opens onto a large balcony overlooking the pool, with views to the north.
The previous lounge on the upper level was replaced by a spacious open-plan main bedroom. It has a sleeping area, lounge area with a fireplace and an open-plan bathroom. The original bedroom wing was converted into a self-contained flat with its own separate entrance, featuring two en-suite bedrooms, a lounge, study and a fully equipped kitchen.
Externally the architecture is modern, with large glass surfaces letting in sunlight and opening up the views, with a curved balcony and concrete roof slabs projecting the eyesight towards the view. Texture is provided by exposed stone walls, and exposed concrete cantilever stairs lead from the balcony to the pool and garden.
Energy efficiency is provided by low e-glass, which is sufficiently protected by concrete overhangs. Internally, most appliances, including geysers, are gas-fed.
A new view
“This project was a challenge, as the previous design was very complicated with unnecessary details. We thought about the new design rationally, and were not afraid to provide the client with bold new ideas and changes to the house,” says Mellet. The client accepted the proposal from the architects, and the result is a house which addressed all the problems and provides the sunlight-filled open spaces he required.
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