This house has been designed to be highly flexible and adapt to the owners' changing needs. The house has two skins throughout: the sliding glass windows and doors, and the sliding timber shutters, which enable the owners to constantly transform the look and feel of the spaces to suit their activities, the weather and the time. On the ground floor, all of the doors in the living area can slide away to open out onto the expansive covered patio and garden, while the timber shutters set into the concrete portal on the south of the patio can slide away so that the patio is open to the landscaped motor court to the south, and to the garden and pool to the north. Along the full length of the northern facade on the first floor, folding stacking timber shutters outside the sliding windows provide shading and privacy for the bedrooms and TV room, but can be stacked open for extra sun and views.
The generous internal volumes are accentuated by means of floor to ceiling glass doors and windows, internal pivot doors and cabinetry.
The inclusion of a back of house kitchen, scullery and pantry enables the front kitchen in the open plan living area to remain uncluttered, with all appliances and utensils concealed, so that it reads as part of the tranquil living space rather than as a utility area.
The use of raw, natural materials throughout the house, such as flamed granite floor tiles, wire brushed white oak, exposed off shutter concrete, stone cladding, and natural stone countertops and mosaics, impart a sense warmth, softness and comfort.
House 02, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
The house is set on a secluded, tranquil stand surrounded by established trees. The main house consists of 2 wings: the living wing and the bedroom wing. Both wings have long, low roofs which appear to float over and past them. These roofs are supported on external steel posts, as all of the walls stop short of the ceiling, with clerestory windows on top of all internal and external walls. The clerestory windows allow views of the trees from inside the house, and admit a soft, diffused light into the house during the day. At night, the ceilings are lit up by lights which are concealed below the clerestory windows. This creates a soft, ambient light, and enhances the floating effect of the roofs. The deep overhangs of the roofs and the generous concrete aprons around the house extend the house into the garden both spatially and visually. The deep roof overhangs also shade the glass in summer, protecting the house from solar heat gain.
Along the full length of the northern side of the living area is a 16 meter long floor to ceiling motorized frameless glass sliding door. When opened, the door disappears into cavity walls, and the living area effectively becomes an open covered patio, with 2 large cavity sliders on the south side opening onto a secluded courtyard.
The entrance door was designed by South African artist Marcus Neustetter. It comprises a sheet of laser cut steel on the outside and laser cut walnut on the inside, with clear glass in between to let light shine in during the day and out at night. The laser cut image originates from a Google Earth image showing the topography of Johannesburg and the surrounding areas.
The minimalist architecture, expansive spaces, soft natural daylight and white walls in the house serve as a backdrop for other artwork throughout the house.
The eco-pool has been designed to read as part of the garden, with gravel banks acting as the transition between the garden and the pool, and planted wetlands blending visually with the surrounding landscaping.
House 03, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
The house is set on a secluded site in Hyde Park. The architecture is a bold mix of raw and slick materials, with dramatic volumes and lighting. On arrival, one is greeted by a high, solid exposed off shutter concrete wall, with a 3.8 meter high raw mild steel entrance door with a raw mild steel canopy projecting over it. The entire door can pivot open and is held open by means of a steel disc which is rotated to lodge into a sluice in the concrete motor court. For practical reasons, the pivot door has a smaller, concealed side hung door set into it. The garage doors to the west of the motor court have been designed as full height steel frames clad in timber slats. The surface of the motor court is made up of concrete slabs with strips of grass in between to visually soften the area and absorb stormwater run-off.
One enters into a 7 meter high living area, with an exposed off shutter concrete wall to the south, and an exposed off shutter concrete soffit above. To the south and north of this area are walnut clad floating staircases with frameless glass balustrades, which take you up to the first floor and the jacuzzi and yoga deck on the roof respectively.
Several sculptural light fittings are suspended in the volume. The rest of the lighting is achieved by means of soft, indirect light, which takes the form of led strips underneath the stairs and the kitchen island, led cove lighting, and recessed downlights in troughs. This combination affords the owners flexibility to light the space according to their activities and moods.
On the western end of the double volume living area is the kitchen, which was specifically designed to read as an architectural feature rather than a kitchen. The kitchen comprises of walnut cupboards and cladding which stretch all the way up to the underside of the soffit, and wrap around a window which looks onto, and is shaded by, an ancient olive tree. The kitchen island appears as a monolithic block, with a thick slab of ironwood floating off the back of it, which acts as a server while visually concealing the hob. To the south of the kitchen is a frameless black glass sliding door, which can be pushed into a cavity to open the kitchen up to the back of house kitchen and scullery area. When closed, this door reflects the garden and view to the north.
The north side of the double volume opens onto a more intimate, lower living area, with a white oak ceiling, and sliding floor to ceiling glass doors on the north, east and west sides. These doors slide away into cavity walls, allowing the entire area to flow onto the pool, braai area and garden.
The eastern end of the pool has a beach entry, which slopes down from the covered patio to the north of the cinema, creating spatial and visual continuity with the living areas.
On the first floor, the 3 bedroom suites are surrounded by floor to ceiling sliding glass doors with frameless glass balustrades, in order to take advantage of the view over Hyde Park, and allow the rooms to be opened up to the outside. Sliding timber shutters provide shading and privacy when closed.
The monochromatic palette of materials throughout the house was selected to ensure a balance and contrast between slick, modern elements and a soft, natural feel. In the guest bathroom, the exposed off shutter concrete walls surrounding the vanity area have been left untreated, and serve as the backdrop for a polished brass vanity counter, a sculptural white basin, and a round mirror which conceals a light which washes over the concrete, accenting its roughness. The slick reflectiveness of the white caesarstone, black glass and mirrors in the bathrooms is softened by the use of matte charcoal duco, timber, and warm, concealed lighting.
The design of the garden, by Patrick Watson, is essentially an architectural grid comprised of various species of long and short grasses, with hedges on the perimeters to screen the boundary walls, and several trees which shade specific areas of the house while serving as focal points.
House V, Monaghan Farm, Lanseria
This house in Monaghan Farm, an eco estate in Lanseria, was principally shaped around its natural context - it is situated on an undisturbed hill with savannah grasslands with an expansive view of beautiful rolling hills and a river below – as well as the ideas and requirements of the clients.
A concern for the relationship between nature and habitable space, as well as ideas around occupying such a beautiful natural place resulted in the search for an architectural response of simplicity and sensitivity.
The house was conceptualized as a set of pavilions, separated by a series of courtyards and green fingers that act as sheltered outdoor living spaces with glass corridors connecting the various pavilions internally. The pavilions, with their deep overhangs, thin roof slabs and recessed floor-to-ceiling glass lines, create a horizontal profile, allowing the house to sit unobtrusively within its surroundings. The roof is planted with the same vegetation as the surroundings, further reinforcing the relationship with the context.
The pavilion and courtyard spatial typology results in a diversity of spatial experiences, which is further enhanced through an interplay of differing volumes throughout the house which relate to the various activities. Spaces are open and expansive in the more public areas of the house, and enclosed and defined in the more private areas.
The clients were instrumental in the conception of the design, detailing and construction of the house. The husband, with his background in engineering and his love for concrete, informed the tectonics of the house. On the other hand, the wife’s remarkable eye for colour and furniture complemented and softened the interior space. This house is truly a product of their passion and imagination.
House for an art collector, Milan
Our first Milan project is a house for an art collector in the hills on the outskirts of Milan.
House S, Westcliff, Johannesburg
This project was an alteration and addition to a heritage Cape Dutch style house on the Westcliff ridge. Sensitivity to the heritage of the existing house and the area was a major consideration in the design concept. The additions and alterations have been designed to be very modern and aesthetically distinct from the existing house, in order to maintain the architectural integrity of the existing house. While the existing house has remained white, in keeping with the Cape Dutch style, the additions are black in order to visually blend into the ridge when viewed from a distance, while contrasting with the existing architecture.
The existing house was opened up inside and converted into a light, bright living area, with expansive frameless glass folding stacking doors on the north side. Below this, a new level which houses the bedrooms and a gym has been added. The roof of the bedroom level has been planted with grass in order to serve as an expansive, level lawn leading off from the living area. A new covered patio area has been built at the end of the lawn, and a rim flow pool has been built at the northern edge of the lawn, overlooking the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. The lawn is surrounded by frameless glass balustrades in order to optimise the view from the living area.
The front of the bedroom level structure is stepped in plan so that each room has glass sliding doors on the north and west sides. When these floor to ceiling glass doors are slid open, the north west corner of the room is completely open, allowing for uninterrupted views. All of the rooms open out onto a timber deck with frameless glass balustrades, and aluminium louvers above, which have been designed to shade the glass in order to prevent solar heat gain in summer, and admit sunlight into the rooms in winter. The decks are framed by a visually light steel structure, with steel columns at the corners which drop into the ridge as stilts. This, and the light, transparent structure, gives the visual impression that the bedroom level is floating above the ridge, or 'touching the earth lightly'.
House C, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
The entire house is clad in blonde sandstone sourced in Lesotho, with a moat around the perimeter of the entire house. Sculptures are placed on pedestals within the moat, and appear to float on the water.
The house has been built around a central courtyard, with a pool in the centre and a pizza oven, making it ideal for intimate family living and entertaining. There are additional smaller lushly landscaped courtyards cut into the perimeter of the house, which bring in more natural light and further blur the spatial boundaries between inside and outside.
On the first floor is a study and a playroom, and the balance of the rooftop has two 100 square meter greenhouses in which organic vegetables are grown.
The interiors, by Tonic Design, are rich and cosy, with luxurious finishes such as backlit alabaster slabs in the kitchen, dark wood, various wallpapers and an extensive collection of art and artefacts.
House H, Houghton, Johannesburg
This project was an alteration and addition to a house in Houghton designed by Bauhaus architect Douglass Cowin in the 1930's. It is a dramatic example of the Modern movement at the time, and is situated in one of Johannesburg's oldest suburbs.
Daffonchio was tasked with enlarging the house whilst maintaining its integrity, simplicity and functionality. As much as the old house as possible has been retained, and mirrored in the additions. Original elements such as sliding doors, door handles, fireplaces and the red steel pipe on the exterior balcony have been retained.
The house is experienced as a narrative, where it is seen as a sequence of spaces and experiences, thereby threading a story that can also be read in several different directions.
As you arrive, you are greeted by a solid, heavy facade, which is closed and intimidating. As soon as you step inside, the soaring staircase offers an uplifting contrast. The long passage, with a window and the garden at the end, draws you into the cool and calm living areas. From the dining room, a large square window looks out onto an illuminated sheet of water, the pool, to dramatic effect. The new lounge, surrounded by nature and uplifted with light and music, is the most calming room in the house. The new lounge is surrounded by sliding glass doors, with timber louvers which allow maximum sun in winter and minimal sun in summer.
Inside, the owners have kept furniture simple, with a focus on collectable modern art and furniture pieces true to the Modern era and in keeping with the Bauhaus style. The palette is a cool black and white, with parquet flooring stained black to pick up on the original black steel window frames.