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Spine Wall House

Blog | Date: August 30, 2017

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Drew Architects


Project Architects:

Andrew Payne

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SPINE WALL HOUSE
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Pretoria Institute for Architecture
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The home was designed for a bachelor with limited mobility looking for a modern, single storey home characterized by a strong connection to nature and views from all rooms in the home. The client loves natural materials and the African bushveld and was looking for a home which imbued a sense of being away in the bush: a place of comfort, a refuge from the world but reinterpreted in a more contemporary, urban context.

Given the clients requirements and the location of the site on a main arterial road within a residential estate, the departure point for the design and defining gesture of the home is a large dry-packed natural stone wall which defines the line between public and private space. The intention was to create a sense of protection, isolation and enclosure on the private side of the home and in so doing create sense of interest and increased anticipation on arrival by the restrained use of line, form, texture and materiality on the street elevation. The bulk of the home hunkers down behind the prominent spine wall, the only suggestion of what lies beyond being three chimney structures with an intentionally exaggerated vertical scale and a steel and timber roof terrace structure above the main terrace space. Given the position of the site we felt that providing an opportunity to access the incredible views and perspective from a first floor vantage point was too valuable an opportunity to miss. Accordingly, we planned a rooftop social space taking full advantage of the panoramic views available looking north down the 13th fairway and to the horizon beyond, accessed from the ground floor entertainment space.

The spine wall also defines the primary movement route within the home and, whether experienced from inside or outside the home, provides powerful visual legibility. A 1.2m deep naturally filtered koi pond runs the length of the wall on both sides which not only provides life and movement in the experience of the wall but also the illusion, through reflection, that the wall continues into the ground. Natural materials such as dry-packed stone, solid hardwood, large format solid granite tiles and copper create a contrast against more clean, contemporary materials such as glass and off-shutter concrete.

We believe this home is an absolute reflection of our client, his unique requirements and aspirations and at the same time leverages full advantage of the opportunities inherent in the site and is an appropriate and contextual response in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2015.


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