A palace in the mountains

Friday 16 Dec 2011

Family house in foothills of Table Mountain designed in sync with Nature's rhythms

The site for House Venter is situated on the northern extremities of a private estate, at the foothills of Table Mountain. The brief called for a large family home to accommodate five bedrooms and a guest suite.

Although a natural flow between the various areas was important, privacy between the bedrooms and the living areas was paramount - as was the need to address sunlight and the strong summer winds.

The very steep and irregular-shaped site informed the design and shaped the building on four separate levels; each staggered back, respecting the natural contours of the land. The result is a building that has a natural flow, is completely private and sheltered from the summer southeasterly winds.

In the main living areas on the second level the interior and exterior transition is seamless with the level lawn, pool and courtyard all integrated with the living areas. Sun in the summer solstice is controlled by a series of sunscreens, roof overhangs, specialised glass and pergolas. In the winter solstice, the sun penetrates deep into each room.

To reduce the overall mass of the building the concept was to split the programme into five pavilions, each with their own roof, creating a village-like feel. These pavilions are connected to each other with glass-roofed passages and galleries, which also act as gutters for the various pitched roofs, allowing the possibility of harvesting rainwater.

It was the intention from the outset to make the user gained a heightened awareness of not only the spectacular natural environment which surrounds the property but with the weather patterns and elements, the changing patterns of light throughout the day, winter storms or summer winds, blazing sun or moon shadow.

The building shifts in expression from solid weight below, forming a cave-like environment, to transparent lightness above, evoking memories and emotions of camping under the stars.

The house was meticulously detailed in every respect from the landscape right through to the smallest interior detail.

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