A bushveldt home in Johannesburg

Cemcrete's Project of the Year for 2015 is a modern home located in Johannesburg that is designed to integrate simplicity, plenty of natural light, and the use of natural materials and contrasting textures.


Andrew Payne - Drew Architects

Undertaken by Drew Architects, the clients brief was simple and in line with their love for the bush and what it is to be away staying in a bush lodge. However, since the property is located in Johannesburg, it also needed to be modern, warm and practical – a place in which to comfortably raise a family.

Taking this into consideration the outline for the design integrated simplicity, plenty of natural light, and the use of natural materials and contrasting textures.

As architects it was our vision to create a home which imbued a real sense of what it is to being away in the bushveld: in the way the home is experienced; in the planning and circulation within the home; in the materiality of the home; in the way light is brought into the home; and the dialogue between architecture and landscape, man and nature.

A characteristic of Drew Architects buildings is that they generate interest and impact by offering a collection of different, experiences rather than a one-dimensional approach. Planning of the home structured around a series of large mass dry-packed stone walls, treated as if almost already pre-existing on the site.

The connecting spaces are intentionally mostly glazed flat concrete roof ‘boxes’ which intimately connect one with nature and increase the sense that one is leaving one part of the home and journeying to another as one would move on winding timber decking under a canopy of thorn trees and African sky between suite and main social space in any luxury bush lodge experience.

The built structures face in an east west direction, orientating them a few degrees east of north for the optimum orientation in South Africa, and in order to maximise the solar radiation into the home. The north facade of the building is mostly glazed but takes advantage of the mono-pitch roof overhang which invites in all of the low winter sun, but excludes the midday summer sun which would likely overheat the space.

High level clerestory windows also invite in natural light but in addition give the building a sense of lightness as the mono-pitch roof plane seems to ‘float’ above the solid walls below. Long strip skylights run along the length of the stone spine walls bringing them alive with natural light and shadow without letting in too much heat.

Andrew Payne from Drew Architects

Over 300 square meters of flooring was completed over a two week period and a ton of Cemcrete Colour Hardener was hand applied by a team of twelve. One of the biggest challenges on site was that the north facade of windows were only installed after the Colour Hardener application was completed and the floors had to be protected from the rain during its curing time.