The Last Glass House

The Last Glass House

Thomashoff + Partner Architects
Johannesburg, South Africa | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Roelof Petrus van Wyk

The Last Glass House

Thomashoff + Partner Architects as Architects

“The last Glass House” is situated on the rocky outcrop of the Westcliff Ridge, with a view to the west, through existing electricity pylons, over a valley, with Auckland Park and Melville in the background.

The brief was simple: A dwelling for an artist: a Bedroom Suite with an en-suite Bathroom, Kitchen, Dining area, Lounge area, Study area, and a Guest Room facility. Ancillary facilities include a swimming pool, Staff Quarters, and Storage.

The design is inspired by the rich history of Johannesburg - the goldmines and its industry, the essential functionality of the industrial buildings in central Johannesburg. A key characteristic is the use of mass-manufactured steel fenestration. Another element of inspiration was the galvanised steel electricity pylons located a few metres away from the site in a municipal servitude.

The site falls approximately 6 metres from East to West. The project was conceptualised as a series of interrelated spaces, defined by elements such as retaining walls, the horizontal planes of the terraces, and glass walls. Significant spaces contain major landscape elements, such as a massive century old oak tree, the pool, a landscaped mass of natural grass, and a landscaped earth berm. These create a series of spaces or outdoor rooms integral to the landscape with various degrees of privacy. The top terrace becomes a threshold space, with pedestrian and vehicle entrance and parking. The main structure is situated on the intermediate terrace, a semi-private external space that contains the swimming pool and entertainment area. The bottom terrace to the West is the most private - the double volume Bedroom Suite opens onto the garden under a large oak tree.

The residential structure is 5m wide and 42m long, consisting of a single open plan space, that contains most of the required functional areas. Hierarchies of privacy are obtained through vertical separation, by the use of a split-level configuration. To the North and South of the main structure, the Guest Room facilities and Staff Quarters are accommodated in re-purposed industrial shipping containers.

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