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Luminous eco-friendly home in South Africa of glass and steel

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The light-filled unique and eco-friendly home was designed by Nico van der Meulen Architects, located in Inanda, a township in eastern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. “Forest Road Home” is a glass and steel dwelling showcasing views of the Sandton skyline to the north. The approach to this magnificent property catches its first glimpse with a cantilevered porte cochere screen; consisting of suspended steel tubes and double sliding garage doors clad in dark limestone, blending with the wall.

An exquisite, not to mention world famous, steel sculpture designed by Regardt van der Meulen twirls on a podium next to a glass window wall with a pivoting front door. The electric smart phone privacy glass works by the touch of a button, where the screen can go from opaque to clear, eliminating the need for window treatments. Upon entryway into the home, the transparency becomes evident with the views over the multi-level hallway, lounge, spa and pool to the water feature and garden beyond, as well as over the double volume family room, dining room, lanai and kitchen.

Fact: The home consists of a sumptuous 16,264 square feet (1,511 square meters) of living space.

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Although the spa, pool and water feature are three separate bodies of water, the effect created was that it is one interconnected system flowing into each other. Sliding glass panels hide the bar and kitchen when not in use, creating a more intimate setting, while a skylight lit catwalk between the main suite and guest bedrooms allows views of the living spaces and garden through the brise soleil on the north side.

On the catwalk a study, pyjama lounge and kitchenette are hidden behind sliding wooden panels. The study and pyjama lounge leads onto an expansive private balcony. The LED illuminated polished concrete and wood staircase cantilevers out of the wall with vertical steel bars acting as balustrades and supports at the same time. A recessed illuminated handrail forms a graphic line in the wall, while a hidden horizontal sliding door enables the owner to cut the upper floor off from the ground floor for security.

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The lanai and brise soleil on the north side cantilevers 18 meters by 6 meters unsupported by columns, partially over the pool.   The lanai consists of a seating area, dining area and bar cum barbeque, seamlessly connected with the living spaces and kitchen, while the brise soleil consists of suspended steel tubes, to create both privacy and sun control. The breakfast room is situated on the north-east corner of the kitchen, to bask in the morning and winter sun.

The main suite is also placed on the north-east corner of the first floor, divided by sliding smoked glass screens.   The bathroom with free-standing spa bath gets the morning and winter sun, while the bedroom is exposed to the winter sun.   Expansive his and her dressing rooms are situated behind the bedroom and bathroom. On the opposite side of the building are two guest suites, both north facing with en-suite bathrooms and walk-in cupboards.

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A geothermal system is used to heat and cool the home, and also to heat the pool and spa.  Nine boreholes were sunk to a depth of 100 meter for this purpose, and a special room created in the basement to house the equipment.  The photo voltaic panels on the roof have an output of 10KVA, while rain water is harvested and the whole house is double glazed, except for the frameless concertina doors.

Also in the basement is a home theatre with an adjoining light-well which allows winter sun to penetrate even this space through sliding doors into the atrium created at the bottom of the light-well. A window looks into the spa. The kitchen and built-in cupboards were built by Dada and Porro respectively, and imported from Italy by M Square Lifestyle Necessities, while the interior design was done by M Square Lifestyle design. All the furnishings were also supplied by M Square Lifestyle Necessities.

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What We Love: The details that went into this eco-friendly home are breathtaking, from the indoor-outdoor connection to the use of exquisite materials. The architects did an excellent job of giving the homeowners tons of privacy with the use of a floating, cantilevered i-beam structure. The tubing screens enabled views to the outside while providing privacy and a magnificent sculptural aesthetic from the exterior facade…. Readers, please share with us what design details in this home caught your eye in the comments below! 

Note: Have a look at a couple of our other favorite home tours from the incredibly talented portfolio of Nico van der Meulen Architects:

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Above: The whole of the living/kitchen/breakfast area opens totally through the use of frameless concertina doors to the lanai and garden.

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Photos: Courtesy of  Nico van der Meulen Architects who submitted this project through our project submissions page. If you have a project you would like to share with us, please contact us here.

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