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House Louw
Pretoria, Gauteng

People:

MELLET AND HUMAN ARCHITECTS: Architect

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Date:2010
Type:Homestead
Status:Extant

Award for Architecture Citation

House Louw Delport occupies the lowest sliver of a narrow, steeply sloping, subdivided site overlooking Groenkloof to the north. The plan responds to the demanding topography with the garages and utilitarian spaces at arrival level below and all the living spaces over with indoor and outdoor being on the same level. The transition between the interior and exterior is, in fact, practically seamless and the patio, pool area and garden are true extensions of the covered spaces.

The plan form further exploits the narrow site with its linear configuration, and maximise both the views and the trajectory of the sun by having all the living and bedrooms facing north. Clerestory windows allow sun and natural light to penetrate into the interior behind the covered patios.

The form emphasises a low profile, and strong and consistent horizontal lines. These obviously not only allow the house to merge well with the land, but also grant the residence directly behind it an equally pleasant and uninterrupted view.

The responsiveness of the house to climate, orientation, slope and view was achieved through the very adept articulation of the building sections. Finally, the adjudicators were impressed with the simplicity and logic of the whole, the competent level of detailing, the total integration of indoor and outdoor functions – in short, with the pleasant spaces and the architectural quality of the design.

Award for Excellence Citation

This house conceptually infuses an art and sculpture exhibition gallery into a residential dwelling. By taking advantage of the spectacular views surrounding the site, whilst humbly confining itself to an untamed slope of the property, the house becomes a showpiece of unlimited visually captivating sight lines. Poised between submitting to the dense foliage of the site whilst dominating the size of a very small property on the slope, the structure is partially camouflaged as its form is manipulatively blended into the raw intimately congested landscape.

Despite the contradicting factors above, inhabitants are continually made to feel elevated out of the indoor living spaces into the vast horizon views of Tshwane's highveld landscape. One is always made aware of the lushness of the urban environment without being consumed by it.The house is experienced as a viewing deck that presentsTshwane as a canvass, evoking a phenomenon of place-making articulated and defined by the sky being linked to the earth by the house.

Aside the part-artificially and part-naturally lit single corridor which replicates an art gallery, the private and public areas of the house are extensively flooded with natural light by clerestory. This effectively allows the corridor to hinge the building to the ground with the living areas that are flanked along the northern edge of the corridor being spectacularly given flight into the Tshwane horizon.

The choice of materials for the interior on the building is a stark reminder by the intimate atmosphere and warmth created within, that this is a home made to showcase the owner's collection of the most extraordinary artworks. It is often the case that homes of art collectors are austere with disproportionate interior volumes; a notion turned onto its head by this residential building as it evokes a down-to-earth ambiance within well-proportioned indoor spaces.

Sculptures in the photographs are by Ruhan Janse van Vuuren.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

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