5 Magistrate Towers

5 Magistrate Towers

Jeremy Steere Architect
Mtunzini, South Africa | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Mlungisi Mathe

5 Magistrate Towers

Jeremy Steere Architect as Architects

Two teenagers, Josie 14 and Matt 17 needed a place to stay as the 1 bedroom cottage occupied by their father, Jeremy Steere was too small. The option was to build another floor on top of the existing cottage or find a site on the 900sqm property in Mtunzini (120km north of Durban) to build the 2 bedrooms.

Finding an alternative place to stay during the construction of a top floor addition was a challenge and the brilliant sea views from the high part of the site were what influenced the decision to build the new bedrooms on the steep sloped portion of the site.

Human settlement in rural Africa is characterized by small scale buildings generally circular or square in plan. The idea here was to build the two towers using “maintenance free” local materials. The result is a square en-suite bedroom tower and a round spiral staircase tower. The staircase tower leads to the two bedrooms and to the top terrace. There is a two-storey height limit in Mtunzini which resulted in the top roof-terrace being left without a safety balustrade making it essentially an un-inhabitable place for the placement of solar panels. Future “sala” with no solar panels is the intention.

The configuration of the bedroom facing the Indian Ocean view (timber floors) and the bathroom behind it with concrete floor led to the obvious position for the shower – outside and with a sea-view.

The bedrooms are accessed by generous brick stairs which form part of the social “street space” at the foot of the towers where the retaining wall becomes a wide seat. The main cottage deck with a Bedouin Stretch tent over it, overlooks this social street space and provides for interaction on the 4 various levels: the street, 1st floor bedroom deck, 2nd floor bedroom deck and the timber deck level.

To alleviate the ongoing cost of maintenance there are no finishes in these buildings. It’s a clay-common face-brick cavity wall bedroom tower and a cement-brick spiral stair tower laid as breeze block. The circular walls of the tower also act as the balustrade and support for the two bridges. These bridges are the only two points of contact between the wall and 3CR12 stainless steel spiral stairs. The property is located in a highly corrosive environment, 800m from the sea; the choice of material for the staircase was influenced not only by the corrosive nature of environment but by being an easy material to weld on site. The treads were welded on-site onto a 100mm diameter central pipe.

The floors of the bedrooms are 32mm SAP sealed with an “eco-friendly” product called “Pro-nature”. The same floor planks were used to shutter the roof terrace resulting in the ceiling being a mirror image of the floors.

Material Used :

1. Corobrik – Roan Satin face bricks Class FBS 

2. Derbigum – SP4 Waterproofing membrane

3. Geberit – Abalona Floor-Standing WC

4. Vaal – Alto Art Countertop Basin

5. LightCo – Black Aluminum Spotlights 

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Project Credits
Product Spec Sheet

Roan Satin face bricks Class FBS Corobrik
SP4 Waterproofing membrane Derbigum
Abalona Floor-Standing WC Geberit
Black Aluminum Spotlights LightCo
Product Spec Sheet
Roan Satin face bricks Class FBS
SP4 Waterproofing membrane
Abalona Floor-Standing WC
by Geberit
Black Aluminum Spotlights
by LightCo
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