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Impressive transformation in South Africa: House Abo

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House Abo is the contemporary redesign and addition of an outdated face brick house by Nico van der Meulen Architects, located in Limpopo, South Africa. When the architects were called in for renovations to this home, the most obvious factor they took into account was the excessive heat. This particular project would require specialized treatment to ensure that all the additions and alterations were suitable for the hot conditions.

Description of the project courtesy of the architect’s: The client’s brief was as follows: to redesign and style the living and entertainment areas of the house, giving it a more modern and attractive look. In the end, what was once an average single storey 3,692 square foot (343 square meters) house was transformed into an impressive double storey 5,317 square foot (494 square meters) house.

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Naturally, the climate influenced most of what was implemented in the design; large expanses of opening glass were chosen to allow in as much natural light as possible without inundating the house with sun all year around; the well insulated lightweight structure of the whole house ensures that it cools down quickly in the evenings; while the water features serve as a natural cooling system. Steel, one of the chosen materials for the house, was also used in varied forms for thermal control.

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The living room was opened up to create a double volume area. The frameless folding doors in the living room contribute to its open feel, as the house can double up into a veranda when the doors are pulled back. Connecting the two floors of the house is the uniquely designed staircase, which was anchored into a buried six cubic meter concrete block to give it a floating appearance. Enhancing the visual appeal of the staircase are its floss hanging pendant lights, leading the eye vertically towards the double volume ceiling, the end result is a pleasing integrated area.

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The bridge that runs over the swimming pool leads to the bedroom wing of the house, which was opened up to include vast expanses of glass. The glass sliding doors situated on both sides of the bedroom allow constant draught ventilation. These doors were also fitted with horizontal shutters made of steel to control the sun.

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The use of exterior louvers influenced the design of the horizontal groove lines on the double volume plaster wall in the dining room, this added character to the originally dull wall. To further enhance this wall, horizontal ledges with a built in fireplace and selected works of art were also featured. The paint colors were carefully selected to complement one another, while the rusted corten steel adds creative interest. The horizontally slatted timber wall encapsulates the swimming pool patio/braai area. The wall also wraps up to the underside of the beautifully lit ceiling, which reflects back onto the black painted swimming pool. This creates the illusion of an enclosed space.

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The house was furnished to not only compliment the architecture and interior design, but also the client’s request for minimalistic opulence. The furniture was supplied by Molteni and C, Floss, Kundalini and Royal Botania Outdoor Furniture, sourced by M Square Lifestyle Necessities.

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To achieve the desired outcome, the architects had to step in and train the local builders, because they were unfamiliar with the chosen building system.

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The architectural firm’s in-house interior design department, M Square Lifestyle Design, was responsible for the interior design. The entire teams involved in this project, along with client, were extremely pleased with the end result.

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Photos: David Ross

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