House 1 - Bethlehem Potenza,  Parkview, Johannesburg, SA

2008

Like all the Seven Houses, House 1 was conceptualised within the spatial framework set up for the development. The key spatial principles are the street  dividing out buildings from houses, the internal courtyards as private outside ‘rooms’ and the common garden to the north.  

This house is the first house on access to the cluster and like the last has the advantage of light and aspect beyond the cluster. The house is set back 3m from the west street site boundary and this side space is a private yard/garden which also allows controlled public access to the common garden to the north.  The zoning allows for 2 storeys and like other houses in the scheme, house 1 has a basement.

The programming of the main house lead to the creation of two first floor bedroom ‘blocks’, one to the south with two children’s bedrooms, a bathroom and laundry and one to the north accommodating the main bedroom,  bathroom and dressing room all linked through a shower courtyard. These bedroom ‘blocks’ are separated by a double volume kitchen and private courtyard and linked with a walkway along the courtyard edge.  The defined bedroom spaces on the first floor are contrasted with the free flow open plan of the ground floor where the overlapping of activities and transparency is facilitated by the arrangement of the spaces.  The kitchen is the fulcrum of this overlap with the play area connected to the kitchen and the open plan dining and living linked to the kitchen by a serving/bar counter.  The internal courtyard is connected to the house on ground floor through stacking doors which act to extend the house into the outside when open.  This private courtyard allows for the overlap of activities and inside and outside spaces.  The north edge of the house is pulled back from the common garden boundary line and the living room opens onto a glass roof covered ‘stoep’ which runs the width of the house and is a semi-private outdoor living room.

The theme of transparency and overlap is further expressed through the light steel staircase and mesh screens between the kitchen and the courtyard.  The base of the house is the earth tone face brick, always present when the house touches the ground. The bedroom blocks are expressed by their plaster finish and stand proud of the red face brick of the ground floor.