Project name: House M

Location: Durban, South Africa

Date completed: June 2016

Architect: George Elphick

Interior Designer: Karin Elphick / _novospace

Construction Company: G2 Construction

Relocation of a young family to the owner’s childhood community is what prompted Elphick Proome Architects’ (EPA) client to build a new house on a partially platformed site in Westville North. A substantial piece of land was procured, offering extraordinary views of the Palmiet Nature Reserve and the opportunity for their children to walk to the local school. EPA created a bold, yet sensitively composed family home characterized by a relaxed, contemporary African feel. Of paramount importance was respect for the environment, with a directive to create a home that, while large in scale, displayed a relatively understated architectural character.

The family’s love of the African bush lead to extensive outdoor connectivity and selected interior furnishings; the brief was to provide a calm family living space, with modern African elements. Elphick Proome Architects achieved this through the application of simple, raw finishes in the off-shutter concrete elements, polished concrete floors, hardwood ceilings to soffits, and use of timber. The interior spaces display a restrained quality and choice of local furniture and art, and use of earthy tones with accents of vibrant colour in décor elements, as well as the bespoke joinery to reinforce the grounded design. The living spaces open and connect to all the outdoor areas, where family activities and hobbies take shape and verdant surrounds can be appreciated. Central to the spatial development is the kitchen which enjoys a pivotal double volume space; this is the heart of the house.

Elphick Proome Architects’ design intention was to create a truly African home with a sensitive contextual integration into a large site, and so EPA made the choice to position the building on the southern edge of the land with the master bedroom set on the eastern edge of the house. This provides unfettered views to the eastern valley, dramatic cliff faces and northern aspect across the land. Elphick Proome Architects’ use of an existing platform enhanced the opportunity to ‘settle’ the building into what will ultimately become an extension of the adjacent nature reserve. The overall result is a family home which sits unobtrusively in its bushveld environment.

Elphick Proome Architects