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House Rosmarin
Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Michael SCHOLES: Design Architect

Street:St Patrick Road
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Original Building

The original structure was the outbuilding to a large thatch house on Houghton Ridge, designed by John MOFFAT in 1909 It accommodated a hayloft, vehicle hall, horses, cow, mule stable, harness room and accommodation for white and black servants. The building has a thatch roof, 4 dormer windows (3 original, one added prior to the client's purchase), Dressed stone walls, teak windows and Oregon pine doors. The building is double storey, the upper rooms being in the roof volume. The first floor slab is a system of I-beams with arched corrugated Iron sprung between the bottom lip which forms a permanent shutter to the concrete (no reinforcing was used).

The building on a ½ acre (0.2023 hectare) site was subdivided from the main house and converted into two self-contained flats.

The house was cold, dark badly planned and generally very depressing internally. Externally however it had great character and charm and is sited in a well treed garden.

The Brief

  1. To replan and modernise the inside of the house with the minimum of modification to the original external structure.
  2. To bring light and sun into the house
  3. To create if possible outdoor living to the north (The original house was east orientated)
  4. Design a new outbuilding for cars and servant
  5. Accommodation required: 5 bedrooms; Study/Studio; Lounge; Dining, Kitchen, Family Room, Laundry, Servant and Garage


In principle wherever possible the basic structure was preserved and exposed. Original doors and windows are retained. Skylights are cut into the thatch to introduce light. Only on the north was the original stone skin tampered with to create an opening to the garden. The outbuildings are integrated by "stylistic" contrast with the main house.

Motivation for Award

The problem of altering and recycling old buildings of architectural merit is not common in this country, particularly in the Transvaal (GAuteng). We believe this type of work is important for our heritage and environment, and will in future, as is happening In Europe, form an increasing portion of our work. We feel that House Rosmarin demonstrates the validity of recycling; shows an imaginative way of integrating a new structure with an old; and has resulted In a unique and exciting building.

(Michael SCHOLES)

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.