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House Venter
Groenvlei, Bloemfontein, Free State


2011SAIA FS Award for Architecture
2012SAIA Award of Merit
Street:3A Sipres Avenue

Award for Architecture Citation

Houses are the arena of greatest interest to the broader community, especially an architect’s own house.

As the site in a semi-rural environment on the edge of the city is without any distinguishing feature, an old eucalyptus tree serves to terminate the axis of entry. Off this lie the bedrooms, and beyond to the right, the focus of family life is centered around the fireplace, and to the left the courtyard to the U-shaped plan defined by the tandem motor garage.

This is a self-built project, experimental in technique with steel frame, block infilling and metal roof, and the interiors are deftly designed and executed.

The jury was taken by this small and relatively inexpensive project which had been delivered with great panache.

Award of Merit Citation

Using affordable technologies and construction systems, this house has been poetically built for approximately R3 000 per square meter in three months. The use of a steel structural framework with concrete block infill offers an opportunity for incremental architecture that lends the house limitless unique flexibility - formalistically, spatially and structurally.

The character and scale of the outdoor spaces relate favourably to the indoor or semi-indoor spaces such as the terraces. As a result the quality of the house constitutes a series of spaces that allow for appropriate indoor-outdoor living. This combination of indoor and outdoor spaces is a fertile opportunity for passive energy systems that are employed in the ventilation and heating of the building. In using wall and roof building elements as composite systems that house services, the consolidation of water, drainage and lighting makes this house a benchmark in cost-effective sustainable building practice.

The use of the courtyard as the interface that links all the spaces in the house has expanded the floor area, whilst doubling up as a secondary circulatory route between the public and private spaces. This has resulted in the house being inwardly orientated, allowing for the overall sense of place to exude a meditative focus away from the surrounding urban context, yet maintaining a sublime bond with the surrounding landscape. All in all, this is an enlightening and truly invigorating take on affordable technologies - an innovative solution to humane contemporary residential architecture.

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.