location: Simbithi Eco Estate, North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal | architects: Metropole Architects | design architect: Tyrone Reardon | interior design: Louise Metcalfe of Storehaus Design | photography: Chris Allan
On KwaZulu-Natal’s verdant North Coast, this home’s project involved a team including Tyron Reardon as design architect and Simon Wayne as project technician. Durban-based Metropole Architects’ current undertakings include work in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and internationally in Rwanda, Israel and Cyprus.
The clients were categorical in their brief to the architects. They had fallen in love with a property on which there was a half-built structure, and where a large flat crown tree overlooked the nearby Fish Eagle Dam. Another plus factor was the established indigenous forest surrounding the property with its profusion of birds and wildlife.
The half-built house was subsequently demolished in order to create a modern family home featuring plenty of glass to allow for a synergy between interior and exterior. The design process began in June 2013, with construction completed in October 2018.
Says the owner: ‘The original house had failed to take advantage of the surrounds and spectacular views. Our brief to the architects was to design a home from which we could experience an interaction with the trees and forest, and ultimately the overall tranquility.
A prerequisite was that all the bedrooms would have such access to exterior decks and that the entire outdoor living area should be large enough to enjoy in all weather conditions.’ From the architects’ point of view, this was wholly achievable.
Says Tyrone Reardon: ‘With such thick bush encapsulating the house, privacy and direct sunlight were not real issues, so this enabled us to use large expanses of glazing to enjoy views and introduce the natural light available. This approach helped reinforce the indoor / outdoor lifestyle required by the clients.
‘Volumetric play was a theme that was explored within the design, which involved the double volume staircase area, as well as the high-level glazing and raked ceilings on the top floor. This further helped specify the general application of high ceilings throughout.
‘The main bedroom cantilevers over the covered patio below. The concept for the splayed form of this feature was to thrust the main suite out towards the vista of Fish Eagle Dam, as well as create a sense of movement and drama to the architectural signature.
‘The private and tranquil setting within the forest allows the wildlife to get as close as possible to the built structure. The owners are fortunate to see giant kingfishers on the upstairs balcony each morning and enjoy frequent visits from buck and porcupine in the garden below.’
Interior designer Louise Metcalfe employed extensive use of wood, metals and stone to create organic interior spaces. Each individual area was conceptualised in order to enjoy ample spatial flow to the exterior, a formula that has succeeded in accentuating the feeling of space and unity with nature.
She recalls: ‘The decision to use earth elements and tones along with greens was an easy one as the architecture of the house had already incorporated wood and stone, and the house was respectfully set around the original trees. The elements used make the transition from interior to exterior seamless.
‘Each of the differently styled, custom-made sofas are in washable brushed cotton, which lends itself to the relaxed style of the house. And because the owners are dog lovers, some of the furniture has slipcovers.
‘For coffee tables and side tables we used a mix of organic pieces of wood and stone in combination with different metals. In paying attention to detail, each room in the house features custom-made furniture to suit the individual purpose. Some of my favourite pieces are quite dramatic, such as the rust-treated metal frame that gives the entrance to one of the bedrooms a measure of privacy.’
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