Additions and Alterations to Existing House – Situated stone’s throw away from the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, this project in Constantia aims to replace a derelict existing house with a modern home in dialogue with its natural surroundings.

Located on a steep slope, the existing house is surrounded by thick vegetation and established trees, the site is characterised by the complete dominance of vegetation over the structure. The client’s brief was to construct a new home, which would still be well positioned within the sites natural context without destroying the surrounds.

The current house suffers from extensive water damage and persistent damp and water problems. The house is also outdated and does not cater for the needs of the owners anymore. As a result, the decision was made to demolish the old house and design a new one. The brief called for the house to reinforce the connection between the beautiful landscape and the interior of the home, provide more living space as required, prioritise sustainability and good environmental principles and finally to positions the building sensitively within the landscape.

To minimize the impact any new structure would have on the established vegetation on site, the design rooted itself around the conceptual approach of sticking as close as possible to the open areas which would be left behind once the existing building has been demolished.

This proved to be a challenge as the new brief required more space than in the original home. As a result, the building is split into three parts, the entrance space, the living spaces, the private spaces. These three main spaces are then stepped along the site to create two distinct wings of the home, each located in existing open space on site. These wings are then linked by the entrance space. The building is set into the site, lowering the height of the building. The scale is further stepped down by the porch roof, allowing the building to sit unimposing on the site.

The existing house was plagued by inadequate light and ventilation creating problems with damp and mould. As a result, the owners requested that the spaces are naturally well lit and ventilated. To achieve this a deck was introduced around the house, allowing for large openable glass doors to breath fresh air and light into the spaces.

The project will incorporate contemporary sustainable technologies such as geothermal heating, rainwater harvesting and solar power generation on site.