• Dr. Barrack Residence/ Heritage Associates

Architects: Heritage Associates  
Location: Runda Estate, Nairobi  Kenya
Project Year: 2011
Photographer: Heritage Associates

Structural engineer: Eng. Samuel Miringu
Contractor: Steja builders
Joinery works: Don Bosco boy’s center
Floor area: 276m2
Land area: 0.2 ha

There is something about an architect accepting a simple design as the solution to the problem at hand. The Svetlana Barrack House By Heritage Associates in Nairobi gives you just that,  the age old elusive touch to simple well thought out design. At face value it is a three bedroomed residential House with a lounge, dining, open-kitchen, laundry, one-car garage, office, cloak room, a Master bedroom that is ensuite, 2 medium size bedrooms, bathroom and support spaces. At a deeper level the architect seeks tocreate a rich living en­vironment through careful choice of land utilization, space juxtaposition and mate­rial usage. This house is a Statement of freedom expressed through informality and ruggedness; a demonstration of the role of scale, proportion, balance and clarity in form making. To say it is a sane thought process, would be an understatement…The Barrack house crosses the bridge between contemporary and country and in the process doesn’t burn any single element of it. It simply leaves it available for another lifetime.

It is set back from the main gate to give you   a “Country Home” ambience expressed through a delicate integration of the inside and the outside and seamless interconnectivity of various spaces. The balance between concrete and green is just enough to make the environment seem rural and even the walkways are devoid of tarmac and clad in natural stone that allows for interpenetration of grass. The drive is done with natural stones which are packed with gaps of 25mm and planted with grass, bringing out two important effects: reduction of run-off water and creation of an ambience of informal softness. It is like that long awaited walk into serenity but at a stone throw away from the main road.

The building is sited at the last third of the plot leaving large garden to the front and creating a long drive. This enables the residents and visitors to enjoy the large garden.

There is a sense of freedom in the spatial treatment enhanced by the large windows giving a panoramic view of the garden. The lounge is sunken to create more-volume and balance the horizontal dimen­sions. The master bedroom is fitted with large windows giving a nice view of the gar­den and the land beyond. The sloping ceiling in softwood is used to create a warm and pleasant space.

The building is well lit and ventilated by large windows that start at 450mm from the floor.
To minimize on heat gain, the building is sited such that the larger openings face south.
The Solar water heating incorporated in design and construction, supplying hot water for 9 months in a year. The system needs electrical boosting in the cold months of June/ July/August Roofing tiles: the roof is in burned clay tiles, giving the traditional look of a country house. The burnt brick color contrasts very well with the dark grey walls.

Materiality:
Stone work: Carefully hand dressed, to bush hammered texture and laid with struck joints. This enhances the informality feel and look. The stones are of fairly uniform color to avoid visual distraction from the whole.
The ground floor is plastered and of painted concrete floor slab, while the first floor is clear polyurethane on soft wood tongue and groove.
Wall decor:
The internal walls are plastered and painted on soft colors, the choice of soft colors (all from the warm range) contrast well with the floor. Note the backdrop as a context for the triptych (3 no. painted panels)
Glass in brown powder - coated aluminum frames. The brown color is chosen to blend with the burnt brick hue of floor tiles.
Entries are flush doors with mahogany veneer on mahogany timber frames. The brown color carries the country theme through and simply drives it home.

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