Classic, Contemporary Clean lined living…
are the words which repeat themselves through the design of this new home. Sphere Design and Architecture has an approach to building design where the living enviroment and the creating of great spaces in which to live, are of primary concern from concept through to completion. With over eleven years in the local and international industry, Sphere offers a full service where the design runs through as a coherent language, from the exterior through to the interior and minor detailing.
“As a landowner partaking in a new construction project, it is critical that your planning is completed upfront”, explains Gina Walker of Sphere and the principal Architect on this home. “Relating a home to the site will give it a natural response to the enviroment that is both practical and green. Finding the best solution for a particular site will make a home easier to line in, and require less energy to construct as well as maintain going forward.”
Sphere Design and Architecture have extensive experience working in hot coastal enviroments and projects as far north as Dar es Salaam and locally, along the humid KZN coast. Zimbali has a strict design code, but this code allows for most of the primary requirement in designing for a hot humid climate. “Extended eves and verandas take advantage of our sultry climate and pitched roofs deal with our extensive rainfall,” added Gina.
“On this particular project, our clients being widely traveled, the home, being a secondary residence, and with them working throughout Africa, had to reflect their practical needs for low maintenance but a the same time, provide a classic framework for them to be able to express themselves,” enthused Gina. ” Attention to detail, a love of order and a contemporary, no fuss style, made the design process a pleasure and allowed a fresh contemporary approach.”
The site being inland and facing west had its challenges. It has the unique KwaZulu-Natal western outlook of rolling sugar cane and although situated just below the crest of a hill, both sea and river mouth views to the south are achieved.
“Massing the home on the relatively steep and narrow site meant that we had an opportunity to create a three-level home, by following the natural fall of the land,” explains Gina. The home is structured around a triple volume hardwood staircase which links these three floating planes. In plan this is echoed by having a strong axial approach to the home, with three zones that work off this main staircase. These interlocking planes create a semi-enclosed courtyard which forms the key external entertainment area.
Light was also a primary element in the design of the home. Floor to ceiling windows feature wherever possible, within the strict ZEMA design code. This use of glass has allowed the home to have a great indoor, outdoor relationship and more contemporary feel. Sliding folding doors allow the home to react to the climate. The entertainment area extends and retracts according to the weather. The north facing semi enclosed entertainment area allows privacy from future neighbours while pulling light right into the centre of the home.
The entertainment area is raised above the private guest and study wing. This raised deck has meant that the indigenous landscape can occur organically around the home, while the main entertainment area requires little daily upkeep other then the swimming pool, which forms a focal point of the home. The home is wrapped around this external entertainment area which gives it a natural shelter from the prevailing South Easterly wind. The swimming pool serves as a double function of being both for cooling off, as well as a primary water feature of the home, visible from all sides.
“Our client loves to entertain and the entire home is designed to facilitate this, with the main entrance being on this level and an easy flow relationship between lounge, bar, dining and kitchen being critical,” says Gina.
The kitchen has two cooking areas with a generous pantry and scullery, allowing for privacy from staff, while the main kitchen area becomes integral to the entire dining area. The kitchen opens up onto a private courtyard with a water feature, this is axial to the dining area and provides both natural cross ventilation as well as making the kitchen a major feature in the home. “Here our clients’ love of clean lines and planes tied in with the entire home and we achieved a very modern, yet balanced space with floating planes, light and bulkheads,” describes Gina, “with the central hob providing a command station to the rest of the home.”
“Our clients’ extremely busy travel schedule and lifestyle meant that the home needed to be a place to relax and recoup,”added Gina. “even though this is resisted, with the entire family being highly motivated, and can be seen studying, on any given day, towards another masters degree.” Book shelves became an important part of the design and a separate private study and guest room form the lowest segment of the home. On the upper walkway a glass floor and book shelves form a feature of the upper circulation.