Photographer: Renelle Rampersad
100 years marks the space between the original Herbert Baker house and the new additions and insertions. The project aimed for clarity in method in its intent to enhance the heritage house with contemporary sensibilities.
The tight constraints of the existing house meant that the new additions had to be designed to maximize space. This project was an exercise in smallness, asking how little space do we need to live in without compromising on comfort, how maximizing space is about sustainability.
A vertical garden carries a floating glazed box that hovers above the ridge and savours the view of Herbert Bakers elegantly proportioned and iconic ‘ house’. The articulation of the vertical garden wall is intended to make the structure disappear, hence emphasizing the cantilevered glass box.
There is a clear connector between the old and the new. This allows for a conceptual demarcation and reading of the two structures and acts as a buffer between the two pieces of architecture. A new spiral staircase inserted in the old wing of the house is a sculptural twist that connects to the upstairs pyjama lounge.
Each room has a specific identity and engages 1911 heritage with 2012 lifestyle in varying degrees.
A main suite of connecting rooms blurs dressing, bathing and sleeping in a series of framed glimpses, sliding screens and slipping boundaries addressing the informal inside the formal.
The language of the new is clearly contemporary, yet it does not challenge the architectural impact of the main house. Hence it is set back to be right up to the boundary wall allowing for maximum distance between itself and the main house. New mechanisms inserted into and around this heritage artefact reconfigure a new hybrid lifestyle – knitting a century of Parktown history into a spatial dialogue.
Extract from Citation from Gifa awards Jury: “Carefully detailed stairs and other elements follow the same sensitively worked approach. The judges were unanimous in conferring an Award for Architecture on this project, for a work that is intelligent and sensitive, successfully respecting both the building’s historic character and the demands of contemporary life.”