The Conservatory

Architects Nadine Engelbrecht
Location: South Africa, Pretoria
Year: 2017
Area: 450 m2
Photographs: Marsel Roothman


The principal requirement of the project consisted of creating a retreat for its occupants from a hectic urban lifestyle. The client obtained an underutilised 35 hectare farm outside of Pretoria with magnificent views. The house had to have a strong relationship with its immediate landscape and living spaces had to embrace the surroundings, breaking away from conventional space allocation.

Nadine Zwavelpoort 0039 Large
Image by Marsel Roothman

Since the main portion of the house would be inhabited by only two permanent users, they requested spacious volumes and dwelling spaces to be located on a single storey. Guest suites would be separate and not integrated into the circulation of the main house.

Nadine Zwavelpoort 0033 Large
Image by Marsel Roothman

At the heart of the building, the conservatory is intentionally designed to be context specific with solid and translucent roof sheeting and sufficient insulation to optimise passive climate control. In winter the conservatory is configured to allow solar penetration while keeping cold air out. This passive heat is released into the adjoining living spaces by opening the desired partitions. In warm summer months an automated glass façade opens up the conservatory to creating an outside patio which allows natural cross ventilation to flow constantly though the house.

Nadine Zwavelpoort 0036 Large
Image by Marsel Roothman

Energy and water requirements are met completely “off-grid”. Materials chosen for durability and low maintenance include cement washed bricks, exposed steel and concrete soffits. The industrial use of building materials continues to the interior closets, cupboards and kitchen.

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Image by Marsel Roothman

Upon entry of the conservatory a glass floor allows a glimpse into the wine cellar below, accessible only via a seamlessly integrated trap door. The main bedroom is located on the challenging western side of the house to enjoy bird watching into the tree canopy and brilliant sunset views. The large overhanging patio and timber shutters assist in eliminating unwanted afternoon sun. The remainder of spaces remain oriented north with optimal overhangs to ensure climate comfort throughout seasons. Seldom used guest suites are separately treated on the lower ground area with a private entrance and outdoor space.

Nadine Zwavelpoort 0015 Large
Image by Marsel Roothman
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