Located in Midrand, South Africa, and inspired by burglar bars proposed by the owner, this residence boasts a sculptural display of design elements criscrossing the facade. Werner van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects was the architect who took on the construction of this magnificent residence named the Ber House. Designing the house to showcase a contemporary look and preparing it to mold after the inhabitants’ modern lifestyle, the architect created rectangular shapes intertwining to compose a unitary design with a koi pond surrounding the main living spaces and adding to the feeling of transparency given by extensive use of glass.
Four suites, alongside a welcoming, open living zone shape the main body of the building. The owner enjoys working from home, so a large study space was necessary to make him comfortable during business hours. Architects describe a dynamic design seen while moving through the residence: “From the porte cochere one walks over the koi pond to the front door, looking through the hall, dining room and family room at the pool on the north side. The koi pond filled with mature koi surrounds the dining room on two sides. Broken slabs of granite with steel sheets over acts as steps between the dining room and hall to the family room and kitchen. A cantilevered staircase jut out of a granite clad wall, with an illuminated handrail cut into the wall.The kitchen is enclosed by frameless doors, and opens up to the lanai and the east, facing the garden. A steel grating balcony to the main bathroom on the north-east corner protects the kitchen from too much morning sun. The study faces north and east, with the east side facing the lanai across the pool. A bridge crosses over the living room, connecting the pyjama lounge and kid’s bedrooms with the main suite.”
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests
An example of a huge success is Heneghan Peng Architects’ Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Using the large difference in level across the site, the architects created two folds in the landscape. Bold, but not conflicting with the rather bleak natural environment, these folds draw all the man-made areas together and create one fitting man-made break in the natural landscape. In the words of the architects themselves, There is no longer a building and a landscape, but building becomes landscape and the landscape itself remains spectacular and iconic