Nico van der Meulen Architects | Mooikloof Heights, South Africa
Mookloof Heights. East of Tswane in Gauteng, South Africa is the spectacular Mooikloof Heights home which is situated on a north sloping 15000sq.m. site. The home is approached from the north where it is completely transparent, but as the driveway curves around the west side it becomes a collection of stacked rusted boxes without any openings. Due to the size of the site, the house could be stretched to extend to nearly 85m from east to west: The north elevation is totally glazed across the three storeys with deeply recessed glazing to create sun control. The house is clad with natural stone and rusted steel panels framing openings in the faade. These materials speak to the taste of the client, as well as the environment. The soil is composed of deep slate rock which had to be excavated and used for the gabion walls or crushed and covered with topsoil to create the garden. The sloping landscape was reduced to different terraces, creating a stepped landscape with a large retaining pond on the lowest level. As the driveway curves around the house to the entrance on the south side, a transparent canyon opens, with views through the house to the hills, miles away. The rust colour is picked up by the gabion retaining walls that create a carport to the south of the home, while Weathered, a steel sculpture by Regardt van der Meulen, welcomes you at the front door. On entering the double volume entrance hall, the view is across two water features, the first one part of the atrium at the core of the house, the other a large reflecting pond in the garden that doubles as a rainwater collection tank. Internally ribbed brass cladding is introduced to walls and ceilings, while several paintings by Santa van der Meulen complements the interiors. Mooikloof Heights was designed in such a way that the feeling of indoor-outdoor living was prominent from almost every space in the house, lending itself to spectacular views. The style of open plan living Is evident throughout the house. The flow of the ground living and entertainment areas blend and combine into each other and create a connectedness throughout house. The exposed steel beams, glass and stone cladding creates a symphony of textures combined with rusting steel walls and screed floors. The staircase cantilevers out of a massive stone wall with double storey glass to the west protected from the sun by steel louvres and an indigenous tree. A few steps down you are presented with a choice of either the formal lounge or the informal family and dining room flowing out onto the lanai, while the open plan kitchen and breakfast room are just past the jacuzzi. Another sculpture by Regardt van der Meulen sits on a perch above the family room, staring across the double volume space. The lanai is a vast space suited to the Highveld lifestyle, incorporating a bar/ barbeque, dining area and lounge, adjacent to the jacuzzi and pool. The view from the whole house to the north is breath taking, covering the valley down to foot of the hill where Mooikloof Equestrian estate is situated and the whole hill across the extensive garden and the large reflecting pond. On the opposite side of the hall is access to the garages (the other 4 garages have direct access to the kitchen area), a lift that connects the basement floor and first floor, and an executive study leading onto a massive roof garden over the guest wing. A large home theatre is situated to the south of the family room. The guest wing can be reached via the lift or another cantilevered staircase and comprises three suites with a lounge area, all leading onto the lower garden. Going up the main staircase you arrive at the pyjama lounge, with one bridge across the double volume family room leading to the main suite. The other runs across the double volume hall leading to two kids suites, while a third suite and the gym are situated to the south of the bridge leading to the main suite. This kids suite has an internal balcony with the wall facing the suite painted with a whimsical map of the world. The main suite is a private sanctuary, flooded with north and east sun, and a fabulous dressing room and bathroom leading onto large balconies. The home was designed by Nico and Werner van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects with interiors by their interior design company, M Square Lifestyle Design and furniture and accessories supplied by M Square Lifestyle Necessities.