location: Waterfall Country Estate, Midrand | architecture: Studious Architects – Derick Brits | interior design: owners – Sharon Green Franco & Sergio Franco | photography: Rene Walker
Waterfall Country Estate is a recent residential development combining several gratifying factors: living with nature, two private schools and numerous restaurants. Here too, is a logistics hub and commercial office park, three hotels and conference facilities, benchmark architecture and sophisticated security. Unique leisure options include a 30-kilometre cycle track, fishing, running, equestrian activities and rowing.
This house was a new design in the Waterfall residential development on a stand size of 1 130 square metres, with 42 percent coverage spanning 677 square metres. Although the ‘silo’ is the defining factor of the house, the top lit windows are unique in their angle. Not being aligned to the walls and instead bending back inwards to accentuate the aesthetic of the roof and soften the natural lighting; a triple volume is created with this unique roof structure.
Architect Derick Brits recalls: ‘My clients are experienced builders / renovators and had a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve with their next home. They produced a 60-page, A3 presentation file, categorising each area of the house; every aspect from colour, textures, materials and finishes – to possible suppliers – was included.’
Most importantly this design needed to be unusual, that is to say: one-of-a-kind. The owners admired the work of architect Tom Kundig, and after purchasing their property they searched Waterfall Country Estates for an architect who could deliver on their vision. Identifying three homes, all designed by Derick Brits, they discovered that he too was an admirer of Kundig.
Says Brits: ‘Our main inspiration on the brief came from architect Tom Kundig’s work and other homes completed locally. ‘The Highveld vernacular style responds to the climate. It preempts the materials to be used and the functional detailing of natural ventilation, lighting and heating. The clients wanted a home where indoors and outdoors link, where the living areas open up to access the outside and create one generous space. What resulted is a green home, which has employed the use of as many sustainable materials and elements as possible: rainwater to irrigate the garden, solar panels to heat the pool, heat pumps instead of geysers and double-glazing.
‘Instead of having a traditional consolidated garden, this structure consists of four parallel east-west wings with a north-south circulation corridor that splits up the 1 130-square metre stand into six intimate garden pods. The pod’s careful spacing allows in ample sunlight, yet sits close enough to the next wing to become its linking factor, extending the livable space. The design rationale promotes the use of 100 percent of the stand with only 42 percent of the area being building mass. The contrasting exterior was brought inside, and it is relevant to note the nuances created between the two spaces.
‘There was no need here for a large garden given the estate’s facilities, but the children’s rooms were to be light with added TV and study areas. The younger children have their own garden, including deck, trampoline and lawn and there is a double-level cottage for the older teenagers with kitchen, lounge, two bedrooms and bathroom. There is also a Zen-style studio for the owner to work from home.’
The impression of indoor / outdoor living here is integrated within an industrial yet homely context. The owner says that she feels like she is arriving at a Zen boutique hotel, a design signature she enjoys most about her home. She adds: ‘There is a feeling of endless space and, although we are in an estate surrounded by other homes, we never feel confined here.’
Design elements include a floating glass box and the use of steel I-beams, concrete and natural wood elements. A custom-designed staircase features floating concrete treads. Spacious bathrooms have individual design elements and light fittings were sourced by client. There is also a large art / gallery wall and wine cellar-cum-library with inspiration from Harry Potter within the silo.