People:Thomas GOUWS: Architect
Situated east of Pretoria in Mooikloof Estate, the house nestles on a rocky outcrop on a generous plot densely vegetated and largely in its natural state. Barn-like masonry structures are grouped around a courtyard and open outward towards views and private enclaves claimed from the landscape. Sheet metal roofs with deep overhangs are supported on articulated steel and timber, often separated from solid planes with substantial glazing.
The success of architect-client rapport is evident and commendable. Taking inspiration from its context, the volumes, materials and details are assembled sensitively and simply, reflecting the origins of the owners and reinterpreting the spirit of South African rural architecture. In spite of its pastoral setting, the junctions between floor, wall and roof lift the normally heavy tone of a country building with a lightness that reflects sophistication and an intimate relationship to the natural vegetation of the site.
In a society struggling to define its own architectural identity, House Steyn / Kunz makes great strides in this direction without reference to the stylistic pitfalls found in its immediate surroundings. The relationship of the buildings to each other and to the landscape suggest a timelessness which will prevail long after current popular styles have become unfashionable. The regional sensibilities and crafted manner in which programme and context are interpreted with apparent ease.
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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