30 September 2015

Award for Residential Architecture

Proud to announce that the house won the Pretoria Institute’s Award for Residential Architecture.

This modest three-levelled and two bedroom house for an architect and her husband was constructed on a restricted north facing and steeply sloping site in the dense and nondescript Gift Acres Estate in Lynnwood Ridge. The presence of a large rock decreases the garage frontage of this dwelling, which is ubiquitous in the estate and hides a large basement parking area and water storage tanks. The compact house is well positioned, taking advantage of the south views to the nature reserve and koppie and north westerly views over Pretoria. The functional organisation is unusual with circulation and bathrooms on the north facade and bedrooms on the south. Living spaces have the advantage of front and rear frontages providing direct contact with the garden terrace at first floor level and views as well as sun on the north. Solar control is integral to the design through overhangs while sufficient thermal mass provides year-round internal comfort. Material choices and detailing are innovative, integral and unobtrusive.
Citation by: Arthur Barker

06 February 2015

The kitchen

After much anticipation, the kitchen is designed, ordered and installed. All the drawers have push-open mechanisms eliminating the need for handles.

27 January 2015

Smart home

My wonderful electronic engineer husband is developing a unique home automation system for the house. Each light and light switch will be connected to a micro controller. The micro controller will enable us to use any switch to put on any light and change the switches according to whim.  A switch at the front door or next to the bed can switch off all the lights at once. Motion sensors will be allocated to certain lights switching them on automatically when you move into a room, for example illuminating the outside stairs when you arrive home.

Additional software development will allow us to control the system with a cell phone to switch lights off remotely whilst not at home.

In future the irrigation system will also be connected to the micro controller and we will be able to water the garden while on holiday!

24 September 2014

Makoro: Vertical gardening

Vertical gardening is a delightful solution for a vegetable garden in a small urban space. This vertical garden consist of two elements:

“Grow-Wall” has an easy to assemble stackable system for container gardening. These containers are perfect for herbs such as mint which are famous for “taking over” a garden.

A Makoro is an African canoe, also called a dug-out since it is constructed by hollowing out a tree trunk. These canoes are used for fishing by the local people in Mozambique. We converted a used Makoro into a vegetable garden. 

We constructed a steel frame to support the weight of the Makoro filled with soil. The frame was painted with two coats red oxide primer and a final grey overcoat. 

To protect the Makoro we treated the inside with two coats wood sealer and lined it with a double layer of plastic. Sufficient drainage is ensured by holes drilled into the bottom of the Makoro and a perforated pipe covered in a rock layer.

21 May 2014

Growing the garden

As you’ve read on a previous post we are developing an ecological garden.  During the past 5 months nature has returned to our beautiful rock.

In the north garden, on top of the rock, grasses decorate the terrain with green, red, white and tan colours. The species include Melinis Repens (Natal Red Top), Melinus Nerviglumis (Bristle-Leaved Red Top), Eragrostis Capensis (Heart Seed Love Grass) and Themeda Triandra (Red Grass). We also have a few aloes hidden in the grass. Flocks of tittle birds called Bronze Mannikin (Gewone Fret) visit every morning, balancing their tiny bodies on the blades of grass.   

The south garden is the social garden where we have the braai and enjoy the view over the nature reserve. We planted LM grass here to create a soft outside surface for sitting and playing. LM is a low water, low maintenance grass.  Kiggelaria Africana (Wild Peach) trees were planted for shading and privacy. The Wild Peach is indigenous to the nature reserve and well suited. The female trees carry fruit to attract more birds into our garden. At the back where our garden meets the nature reserve we are not planting but rather allowing nature to take over. It is a slow progress but already we enjoy a few 1m high Ochna Pulchra (Lekkerbreek) trees, Burkea Africana (Wild Seringe) trees, a Diospyros Lycioides subsp. Guerkei (Bluebush) and plenty of grasses.