House P, Central Avenue

Atholl, Sandton, Gauteng

A family house on a subdivided garden plot in a suburban setting for a professional couple with plans for a family.  The site geometry and existing features and levels provided the design starting point.  A fairly standard, almost speculative brief, was provided for a (then) fashionable ‘Sandton Mediterranean’ style house with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms upstairs, reception rooms, separate kitchen and dining, and a study / playroom downstairs; good access to external living, swimming pool, tennis court (existing on the subdivided plot) to be kept, and a double garage and staff room / guest room or studio with a separate entrance.

The form of the house was kept simple, barn or temple like, with a single roof over the double story house, and with 2 miniature versions of this roof over the garage and guest quarters /studio to the side.  The geometry followed the shape of the site boundaries.

We exposed the roof trusses to maximise the volume in the house.  The structural grid for the roof trusses set up a rhythm and a scale that provided the discipline for much of the proportioning of windows in the elevations.  We also made a central double volume space through which the stair would rise to double as a dining room (can be a passage, a playroom, a place to do home work, generally a central hub in the house) opening up onto a terrace. At first floor level a ‘bridge’ connects the master bedroom suite with the children’s bedrooms and looks over the double volume space.  We included a thin strip of a skylight all along the back wall so that the stair would always be in light and balance the large double volume openings to the front.

Off the master bathroom is a roof terrace which both carefully makes a private outdoor space for the owners.  The vertical projection of the bay window at ground floor provides privacy and shelter and the vertical formal element balances the composition. 

To enhance security we designed external timber shutters for the downstairs openings and windows, and the upstairs windows have brick grilles, inspired by aspects of work of Norman Eaton and other Transvaal architects, themselves inspired by local vernacular architectures.

We developed a language of making and fixing stair treads and balustrades and glazing panels which married the Meranti timber with black painted steel structural elements.  We designed all the doors, including the cupboard doors, sliding doors and shutters, and it is really the parts of the building that you touch in this house that we spent time in detailing.

In an effort to make space that allows for ‘special moments’, we designed the study bay window with its deep reveals giving shelter from the summer sun and making a place to explore, all of its own.