ofA private residence on site in Zimbabwe’s Forrester Estate, an agricultural farmland one hour’s drive north of the capital Harare, has become Christina Seilern of Studio Seilern Architects' inaugural work since leaving Rafael Viñoly’s office. Christina Seilern, who was the founding Director of Rafael Viñoly’s European office in London and their Project Director for Leicester’s recently opened Curve Theatre, took the project as her first commission after leaving Rafael Viñoly Architects in 2006.
Dramatically sited on a granite monolith (locally known as a kopje) 50 metres above the man-made Gota Dam, the project, designed in collaboration with Muzia Sforza, is fulfilling the modernist aspirations of the clients, landowners and farmers Mr and Mrs von Pezold. The brief warned against any neo-colonial pastiche in the design and placed the views and the drama of the granite cliff plunging into the dam at the centre of the inspiration for the concept.
The house covering an area of 1,500 sq m has been situated on levels ranging between 112 and 116m, and the edge of the cliff, which drops another 50m to the Dam. Overall it consists of three basic elements: two granite blocks enclose bedrooms and support spaces and anchor the building into the rock, becoming part of the surrounding topography.
An expansive timber platform tip-toes on the granite kopje while a cantilevered roof frames the exterior spaces and the stricking panoramic views to the East, North and West. The spaces are designed to focus the eye to the horizon, while creating shaded exterior, living and dining areas.
In addition, two boxes of glass span between the deck and roof, and the natural granite topography. These enclose the glazed living areas with 360degrees 730degrees panorama at the upper level and the master bedroom suite at the lower level. The residence will feature two pools: a small horizon pool at the lower level will visually integrate the body of water created by the Dam and the lower levels of the house and a larger pool located further down the rock, at an approximate elevation of 105m.