This gorgeous green-roofed addition to the Samios heritage home is a paragon of South African sustainable building. Unlike its older, more stately predecessor, the addition was built to enable its residents to live as close to nature as possible without suffering from Johannesburg's harsh dry heat. Despite the ubiquitous use of heat-trapping glass, passive design keeps the house cool in summer and warm in winter.
The building’s glass exterior ensures fantastic views of the surrounding Magaliesburg mountains, but it is also a potential sauna. To mitigate unwanted solar gain, two different types of louvers are used. Horizontal louvers block out the high mid-day summer sun while still allowing the lower-angled winter sun access, which passively heats the interior. Vertical sliding louvers track the sun during the day but can also be closed, thereby shutting out the sun at its hottest without sacrificing ventilation.
The green roof serves several functions: not only does it provide insulation and soak up stormwater, it also absorbs some of the heat given off by the glass. All of the water in the Samios home is heated with solar geysers, with additional interior warmth provided by water-based underfloor heating. Harvested rainwater irrigates the property, which is landscaped with hardy indigenous flora.