House B, Westcliff Ridge | Daffonchio Architects



  • Project Name: House B, Westcliff Ridge
  • Completion year: 2010
  • Country: South Africa
  • Lead Architects/Designer: Enrico Daffonchio
  • Photo Credits: Elsa Young, Candace Marshall Smith, Chiara Frisone, Barry Goldman
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Project Description

(Text as submitted by the Architect)

The clients’ brief was to create a sustainable modern home that exploited views from the site, which is situated just off the Valley road on the Westcliff ridge and overlooks the jacaranda trees of the Northern suburbs parks and Johannesburg Zoo.

The core concepts of the design are rooted in a green, modern lifestyle. The first sustainable aspect is the orientation of the residence, with the main living areas and bedrooms of the house orientated toward the north, sun control at East and West, and insulation mass at South.

The northern façade is fully glazed to maximise natural light and views. External, mechanically operated shutters provide both privacy and sun control for the bedrooms on the first floor.
Vertical louvers allow winter sun to penetrate the house in winter in the morning while projecting a shade in summer. Large areas of glazing on the facades could imply open heat loss and heat gain, but in this case, the choice of double glazing mitigates this, effectively providing insulation.

Cavity walls provide further insulation and thermal mass.
Polystyrene block and beam slabs add performance to the standard insulation layer. Other green principles that were incorporated were the use of solar geysers for domestic hot water and heat pumps which feed the hot water underfloor heating.
The slope of the site also played an important role in the design of the house. The house is stepped over four levels which follow the natural slope so as to cause the minimum possible footprint.

The arrival level contains four garages and a cottage. The level above is the open plan living area with high ceilings. To the north, this area opens out onto a covered patio and to the south, it accesses the garden.
A spiral staircase goes up to the second and third levels. The second level houses the bedrooms, and the third level leads to the swimming pool and viewing deck area.
The pool and pool walkway extends into the koppie* and links the house with the landscape, where all indigenous trees have been preserved and new ones have been added.

The steepness of the site posed interesting engineering complexities, the project is also situated in a sensitive heritage area which is closely guarded by the Heritage society – many homes here harken back to the 1920s and were built by Sir Herbert Baker.

In our designs we respond to our climate, considering heat loss, coolth – exposure, etc.
Our homes need to take into account all of these factors to ensure comfort, sustainability and longevity.

We also continue the tradition of Modernist Architecture that is strong in South Africa, there is a sense of neutrality in our designs from a cultural perspective as we are a multicultural country and there are so many remarkable influences to contend with that it can be impossible to single one out over another as more desirable.


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