With the Link House, Strey Architects was challenged with a typical contradicting clients brief and west facing stand located on disused farmland, brown field, security estate with strict rules and preconceptions of what farm style architecture and vernacular architecture is. The client’s brief stated the need for a home which would be private yet inviting, low maintenance yet aesthetically pleasing, luxurious yet unassuming.
Description provided by the architects: We as architects wanted to provide a dwelling which will be all this, as well as true to regional architecture (local vernacular), but in contemporary-, unassuming way without copying Victorian or Old Transvaal style, as well as what we think should be a given: always incorporating sustainable & passive design principals into every project.
We were challenged with a relatively flat site, with the public street to west, and no further special features except a large existing Stinkwood tree, and neighbours to the east and south already moved in.
It was decided to create a U-shaped ‘courtyard’ house around a swimming pool and the large Stinkwood on the open side of the U. Both the living ‘wing’ to the south of the courtyard and the bedroom/bathroom ‘wing’ to the north utilise maximum northern sun during the short winter months, while the western ‘link’ blocks the low western sun acting as a barrier between the public street and the private courtyard.
It was decided to use a modular, recycled plastic, coffer raft foundation system in order to ventilate Radon gas, as well as to be able to sensibly insulate under the raft without thermal break. Proper board insulation was also introduced to cavity brick walls and the roof as well as double glazing throughout. By utilizing fold-away doors and/or open-able windows on opposite walls, cross ventilation keeps the house comfortable during the long summer & short winter months without the need for mechanical heating or cooling. Upcycled materials like recycled Teak parquet blocks are utilized where possible, and low maintenance plaster bricks are ‘sealed’ with a thin cement slurry. Low water use, indigenous plants, local to the immediate area, were used as these are also resistant to frost which occur during winter. Rain water harvesting tanks catch water from the large roof to water the garden. A solar water heating system provides hot domestic water as well as radiant under floor heating.
We conclude that: simple is usually better! One can design a stylish, contemporary, farm style, sustainable and eco-friendly building while still complying with local authority regulations and estate guidelines.
ARCHITECTS: Strey Architects and Associates
LOCATION: Centurion, South Africa
ARCHITECT IN CHARGE: Friedrich Strey, Johann Strey