• House Serengeti/Nico van der Meulen

Architects: Nico van der Meulen Architects  
Location: Serengeti, Johannesberg  South Africa
Project Team: Rudolph van der Meulen
Project Year: 2013

House Serengeti is a balance of earthy textures and raw materials, against high gloss finishes and refined elements. According to Rudolph van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects, the brief was to create a stylish family home with an ecologically sound design that maximises indoor-outdoor living.

The double-storey home consists of an open-plan living area downstairs, an upstairs pyjama lounge, study, and four en-suite bedrooms. It is subtle yet distinct, the building materials used make for easy maintenance and the indoor -outdoor living applications are effectively maximized.

 

The house’s transparent central core, book ended by imposing solid shapes, is visible from as far back as the street. Other features that are visible from this point are the wetland and golf course which extend beyond the back garden. Balau wood was the chosen material for the walkway, which stretches all the way from the street to the front door, passing over a koi pond.

 

A rusted-steel-clad wall at the front of the house is strategically mounted on tracks so that it slides back to reveal the garage. Rusted-steel finishes were also used for the entrance and upper-level window frames, creating visual continuity.  The lower level of the house interacts with the pool in the back garden, as well as the dining terrace, this is due to the floor-to-ceiling slide-back glass walls that create a seamless interactive space.

 

In the kitchen is a window-hatch that opens onto the barbeque area. Back sprayed glass was used for the bathroom instead of tiles, and as with the outside walkway, Balau wood was also used for the floor decking, which creates one unified space when the glass doors are slid back onto the terrace. Balau wood is a favorite in buildings because it is durable and easy to clean.  In an effort to add a visual punch to the house, a striking lime green accent was chosen for the kid’s room.

Created with the classic modernist elements of rock steel and wood, House Serengeti is an ecological design overall: the two-foot-thick stone-clad western wall serves as a visually appealing heat absorber, and the windows of the house are recessed with overhangs that are strategically cantilevered to take in the sun during winter, and block it out in the summer. The house also has sun-control fins to block out the sun, and a roof made of chromadek and timber to provide insulation.

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