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House Brebnor
President Park AH, Midrand, Gauteng

Stanley SAITOWITZ: Architect

Date:pre 1985
Type:Homestead
Status:Adaptive re-use
Street:201 Trichardt Crescent

 


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Coordinates:
26°00'38.63" S 28°08'52.68" E Alt: 1553m

The site is a six acre piece of highveld. The house began with simulation of the act of habitation on a piece of paper. A circle is marked out on the ground. The contours - abstracted human dimensions - are terraced into the circle and planted with two alternating strains of grass. Continuous terraces sweep up along the rim of the circle as roofs, weaving ground into sky, containing in the thickness the sheltered habitable part.

The house is a horizon. The roofs are pieces of floating ground, solidified strips of cloud, weaving the layered flickering grass and the high Transvaal sky.

The section is the archetypal house, its roof burst open by the trusses, whose hollowness supports the space, traps the clouds, pours off the rains. The roof steps down to the ground to be walked on.

The circle of buildings walling the oasis are, from the rocks (counter clockwise) house, workshop and garage, cottage, three huts loosely woven with the ground (an ancestral vernacular plan), and stables, tied to the contours.

The house extends the originally most habitable part of the site, the rocks. The house is a process of making the rocks habitable; the house is a hollowed rock.

The morphography of the rocks as whole shapes with sections broken off revealing cross-sections is echoed in the cuts of the roof. A moat, the gutter, marks out this cut on the ground.

Two independent intersecting geometries exist: the roof as landscape contour scale, and below - at its own scale of human contours - the more particularized habitation takes its own shape with its own geometry. The intersection of these two geometries has a certain arbitrariness, indicating a purposeful indifference.

The scale of human contours is generated by activity ripples; the swing of the front door established the waves of the platforms of habitation. Each time the front door is opened, the plan is regenerated. The living landscape is an eddy in the space running through. The bedroom is snug between the rocks. The kitchen leads out to the land. The smallest scale of ripples is the naked body contours of the bathroom.

(Edited from a text by Stanley Saitowitz in UIA, 1985: 24)

The building was donated to Wits school of Architecture. (Kathy Munro)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

Beck, Haig (Editor). 1985. UIA International Architect : Southern Africa (Issue 8). London: International Architect. pg 24-25