South African architecture has deep roots in using natural materials and climate-smart design - roots that GASS Architects both draw upon and advance with this gorgeous prefab Westcliff Pavilion outside of Johannesburg. The verdant site is reached by a long and narrow driveway that traverses numerous other properties, so it was imperative to minimize the overall disturbance both to the site and to the neighbors - which is why the cottage is framed in steel.
By using steel instead of heavy masonry or concrete, GASS was able to achieve a variety of aims: first, the black steel became what they called the “primary architectural motif,” and it allowed the team to prefabricate the entire structure off-site and assemble a kit of parts in one fell swoop without having to truck a pile of materials up and down the road.
Additionally, the steel frame allowed for a very compact footprint. All that was necessary to construct the home was to dig footings for the frame, while the rest of the 2 bedroom cottage almost literally levitates off the ground. But it is of the unusual stone wall comprised of materials collected on site that the design team is most proud. Instead of creating a monolithic block in keeping with the region’s historical stone work, they opted instead for a floating wall that doesn’t rely on the ground for its stability; the effect is to completely ingratiate this modernist jewel in its incomparable natural context.
Via Arch Daily
photography © Bernard Viljoen