Requested to build "nothing that looks like a house," an architect creates a barn-inspired retreat with its own conservatory to help regulate interior climate throughout the year.
When Nadine Engelbrecht's parents asked her to design a rural residence for them that looked nothing like an ordinary home, they were seeking a place in which they could escape the hectic pace of urban living. Through an unconventional floor plan and barn-inspired design, the South African architect has brought this request to life on her parents' 80-acre farmland just outside of Pretoria.
Tapping into the vernacular of the nearby African barns, the 6,458-square-foot house, named The Conservatory, has been designed with a massive glass facade. At the push of a button, this glazed facade retracts discreetly upward toward the soaring, pitched roof to open the lofty interiors to the grassy farmland outdoors.
Because it was just Engelbrecht's parents who would be living in the home, she located the high-ceilinged volumes and dwelling areas all within a single level.
At the heart of the building is the conservatory with solid and translucent roof-sheeting that’s insulated enough to optimize passive climate control.
Guest suites for visiting family members and friends are located in a separate lower-ground area that is not integrated into the circulation of the main house. This guest areas includes its own private entrance and outdoor space.
"Sloped natural grasslands and majestic views informed the design of a dwelling partially submerged in the hill," says Engelbrecht. "Veld grasses are allowed to flow continuously onto a portion of the roof, and vegetation permeates the interior through this conservatory placed at the core of the building."
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"Habitable spaces are oriented around the conservatory to make optimal use of surrounding views."