Salt Rock House
Salt Rock House – Description of Metropole Architects.
Metropole Architects’ Salt Rock House is a 530m² (5700ft²) modern 3 bedroom home situated on Kwa Zulu Natal’s North Coast of South Africa.
The house is a bold contemporary architectural design set into the picturesque coastal suburbia that is the Dolphin Coast, celebrating the year round warm coastal climate, local indigenous flora and fauna and magnificent 180° panoramic sea views where one might even be able to catch a glimpse of Humpback and Southern Right whales migrating along the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal from their southern feeding grounds to their breeding grounds off the coast of Mozambique.
Salt Rock House represents an uninhibited architectural expression free from the restrictive stylistic design guidelines typically found in the numerous gated housing estates located in the area.
The house stands proud on its steep site and is a progressive cantilever form arranged over three cascading levels that proclaims its presence and pioneers a paradigm shift in the architectural design language of its context.
The road (public) facade is intentionally low slung, minimalist and austere and hard up against the western site boundary resulting in an architecture that visually engages with street. A linear plan form stretching across the entire width of the site is set back from the street by the width of a double garage structure. This allows for maximum open and sheltered private space used for the purpose of living, entertainment, relaxation and enjoyment of the sea view.
The relatively solid and planar western façade also provides effective privacy to the inhabitants whilst at the same time acting as an efficient barrier to bad weather and prevailing strong winds coming from the south west.
The entrance to the house is a carefully considered, striking, one and a half volume arrangement of components in full height glass, timber and painted plasterwork.
The architecture aims to impress right from the start.
The strong horizontal line created by the roof over the recessed entrance area, together with the vertical lines of the flanking walls, create a framed view through the house to the ‘big blue’ beyond.
A series of external and internal timber screen elements help to provide a sequential reveal of the interior of the house and view beyond as one moves from outside to inside. High level perimeter strip windows visually lighten the experience of the building mass overhead and enhance the experience of the vertical volume of the entrance area and main circulation spine of the house leading away to the principal bedroom areas at this, the upper ground floor level.
Both the master suite and second bedroom at this level are generous spaces for relaxation with en-suite dressing rooms and bathrooms, located at opposite ends of the linear floor plan so as to maintain privacy between the owners and their family members or guests. Here the principal design intent is to provide comfortable spaces with access to the expansive sea views to the east. Fixed vertical timber screens bring in filtered daylight to the clean, modernist bathroom interiors, directing views to the sea without sacrificing privacy whilst at the same time adding a degree of detail and natural colours and texture to the modern side façades. Private balconies to the master suite and second bedroom allow one to venture outside to the edges of the cantilever on a veritable ‘lookout point’ and engage with the sun, sea and breeze.
In addition to the bedroom areas at the upper ground floor level, a screened off secondary TV lounge connects to a double volume space that is an extension of the entrance experience and connects one to the lower ground floor level via a central stringer steel feature staircase with solid oak clad treads and glass balustrade. Here the kitchen, dining, and formal living areas are located together with a sunken bar area and guest suite. A light well with landscaped green wall delivers ventilation and filtered ambient light to the rear of the single aspect plan.
At the lower ground level, open plan design with a minimum of dividing walls, minimal internal doors and level thresholds between inside and outside facilitate a user experience of a single large multi-use space that unconstricted, uncluttered and weather permitting, is able to open up and connect and extend to the outdoors.
Interior styling, furniture and finishes are an ‘African contemporary’ fusion of colour and texture that complement the architectural spaces and synergise with a contemporary beach aesthetic.
A generous external covered verandah area with large linear cantilever pool, open patio and manicured lawn area encourages the inhabitants to indulge in and celebrate an outdoor lifestyle of entertainment, play and relaxation. The combination of solid slabs and framed timber pergolas overhead provide a variety of experience and graded exposure to the sun from full shade to filtered to open.
Glass balustrades are utilized throughout for fall protection enhancing transparency and minimizing the impact on the ocean views.
At basement level below this, the utility spaces for the house are located which include a bio-reactor sewerage treatment plant (producing irrigation quality water), together with underground rainwater harvesting tanks. The house also make use of residential battery-based inverter technologies to supplement its demand on the local electricity supply.
In Salt Rock House, the architecture brings the great South African coastal outdoors in and in turn encourages the inhabitants to venture out into it. Extensive cantilevers provide shelter and a sense of lightness and floating of the upper building mass on the open plan lower level. The extensive use of glass breaks down the traditional visual barriers between inside and out as well as providing reflections of the coastal landscape that is its context. The palette of natural materials including grey and white colour tones, timber screens, decking and stone cladding juxtapose with the bold and progressive architectural form making, creating a sea side home that is not only visually and spatially exciting, but also comfortable and intimate.
MORE CREDITS – Design Architect: Nigel Tarboton. Project Architect: David Louis. Project Technician: Simon Wayne. Structural Engineers: Young and Satharia Consulting Structural Engineers. Design Engineer: Rob Young. Project Engineer: Riaz Suleman. Interior Designers: Olàlà Interiors. Landscape Design & Implementation: Image Landscape Design. Main Contractor: Schoeman Projects. Principal & Project Manager: Matt Schoeman.