The brief for City View House in Groenkloof, Pretoria, designed by Mellet & Human Architects was for a modern, functional, energy efficient house; incorporating in the design the footprint of a demolished house on the site. The property is situated against a north sloping hill in the established suburb of Groenkloof, Pretoria. The large, steep stand affords views over the city to the north, and borders a nature reserve to the south which client wanted to be taken advantage of in the design.
Groenkloof is a sought-after suburb due to its’ moderate climate, established character, vegetation and central location. Older homes, mostly built in the 1960’s and 70’s are bought by a younger generation and either changed or demolished to make way for homes better suited to a modern lifestyle.
“The challenge in architecture is to provide a solution to the client’s requirements that is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and within the merits of good architecture,” explains André Mellet. “In our designs, we always keep in mind that the experience of architecture should be a journey of discovery.”
City View House is approached from the north along a steep driveway. The nature reserve lies ahead and a northern view of the house is provided. A parking area is reached passing the house on the east through a narrow alleyway, but the visitor is not yet aware of the view behind. The foyer is entered, and moving to the right the ground floor living areas open up and the spectacular view is exposed.
“Using the original footprint was ideal,” says Mellet. “The house is positioned at the highest point of the property providing unobstructed northern views. In order to provide accommodation requirements another floor was added, creating the opportunity to visually link the first floor with the nature reserve on the south.”
The total floor area of the house is 590m2 with the ground floor accommodating the main open plan living areas, guest bedroom and study. A glass skin of sliding doors links the view, and extends the interior onto a covered patio, pool deck and boma.
Ascending the staircase to the upper level, a corner window at the staircase gives a glimpse to the nature reserve. The first floor features three en-suite bedrooms, and a TV lounge, while sliding doors provide these rooms with northern views. A south passage linking the rooms houses a collection of books, and a strip window above the shelves makes one aware of the nature reserve. The central TV lounge separates the main bedroom from the other two bedrooms, and a low wall separates the main bedroom sleeping area from the bathroom, creating an open plan effect, and affording views even from the bathroom.
The lower ground floor is totally separate and private from the main house with access to the external areas. It can function as a self-contained flat, but is currently used by the owner as a hobby room and to house a collection of South African memorabilia.
The design offers the modern, functional living the client required, while also incorporating sustainable initiatives. The building has optimal north-south orientation, the walls, floors and roofs are insulated and double glazing was specified on the doors and windows.
“Our fondness of Brazilian architecture inspired the aesthetics of the house. Externally an exposed concrete frame is a feature of the north elevation. It acts as architectural feature, is structural, but also provides sun control. Its’ extension to the west creates the covered patio next to the pool,” explains Mellet. This concrete frame collects rainwater from Chromadek and diverts the water to galvanized rainwater tanks. These rainwater tanks are expressed as architectural features around the house, and below the pool deck.
Solar power is provided through an Icon Home Energy Hub, sufficient to support all the home’s electricity needs and appliances. Energy efficient air-conditioning is installed, as well as solar geysers, while a heatpump maintains comfortable pool water temperatures. A freestanding pellet stove in the lounge helps to heat the interior during winter.
“Our client moved into the house a few months back,” says Mellet. “They are happy with the design and functionality of the house, while we, as architects, are also satisfied. Our client decorated the house with furniture which complements the architecture and concept of the house.”
About Mellet & Human Architects
Award winning Mellet & Human Architects was established in 2000. The office has the design and technical experience to handle a diverse range of projects, mainly focusing on luxury residential and office buildings.
Their aim is to provide professional and personal service, with innovative and energy efficient designs, resulting in the best solution to their clients’ needs. Mellet & Human Architects is a registered member of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), The Pretoria Institute for Architects (PIA), and the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
Architects: Mellet & Human Architects
Design Architect: Andre Mellet
Technical Architect: Willem Human
Contractor: Mammut Bouprojekte